Skip to main content

Full text of "Yule and Christmas: their place in the Germanic year"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at http : //books . google . com/| 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



A 






Digitized by 



Google 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



■YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



THEIR PLACE IN THE GERMANIC YEAR 



BY 



ALEXANDER J^ILLE, Ph.D. 

LECTURER IK GERMAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE IN THE UNIVERSITY OP GLASGOW 




DAVID NUTT, 270-271 STRAND, LONDON 
1899 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 






^f^£/i4i 



/ 7S77J 

Only two hundred copies of this book are for sale 



GLASGOW : PRINTED AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 
BY ROBERT MACLEHOSR AND CO. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO 
MY DEAR FRIEND, 

GEORGE NEILSON, 

AUTHOR OF "trial BY COMBAT," " PKEL ; ITS MEANING AND DERIVATION," 
"CAUDATUS ANGLICUS," ETC, ETC 

TO WHOSE PERSONAL ASSISTANCE, LEARNING, AND LIBRARY 

IT OWES MORE THAN TO ANY SOURCE REFERRED 

TO IN THE TEXT OR NOTES. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



PREFACE 

This book treats of the problems connected with the Germanic year — the 
three-score-day tide of Yule, the Germanic adoption of the Roman 
calendar, and the introduction of the festival of Christ's Nativity into a 
part of the German year, which till then had apparently been without 
a festivity. It traces the revolution brought about by these events, 
in custom, belief, and legend up to the fourteenth century. By that 
time, the Author believes, most of the fundamental features which go 
towards the making of modem Christmas had already come to have their 
centre in the 25th day of December. 

Five chapters of the present book — but somewhat shortened — appear 
simultaneously in the Proceedings of the Glasgow Archaological Society, 

ALEXANDER TILLE. 



2 Strathmorb Gardens, Hillhead, 
Glasgow, Marchy 1899. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. FACE 

I. The Germanic Year, i 

II. The Beginning OF THE Anglo-German Year, » 17 

III. The Feast of Martinmas, 24 

IV. Martinmas, and the Tri-Partition of the Year, ... 34 
V. Martinmas, and the Dual Division of the Year, . 49 

VI. Martinmas and Michaelmas, 57 

VII. Solstices and Equinoxes, 71 

VIII. The Calends of January, 81 

IX. Tabula Fortunae, 107 

X. The Nativity of Christ, 119 

XI. Beda, De Mensibus Anglorum, 138 

XII. Nativity, Christes Mitss, and Christmas, .158 

XIII. The Scandinavian Year, 177 

XIV. Scandinavian Offering Tides, . 189 

XV. Scandinavian Yule, 200 

XVI. Results, 214 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS: 

THEIR PLACE IN THE GERMANIC YEAR. 

CHAPTER I. 

THE GERMANIC YEAR. 

The oldest descriptive remark on the mode in which the Germanics divided 
their year is exactly eighteen hundred years old. It is found in the 
Germania of Tacitus, which, in all probability, was written a.d. 98, and 
runs thus : " They do not divide the year into so many seasons as we do. 
Only winter, spring, and summer have a name and a meaning among them ; 
the name of autumn they know as little as its gifts.'' ^ It plainly means 
that the Germans of the first century of our era divided their year into 
three seasons, the names of which cannot, of course, have exactly corre- 
sponded to the Latin terms, hiems^ ver, and aestas^ each covering a quarter 
of a year. This statement has been assailed from various sides, and for 
various reasons, even Jacob Grimm expressing his belief that it was based 
on some misconception by Tacitus.^ He understood Tacitus to refer solely 
to the meaning of the words, and remarked that the Romans did not use 

^ Germaniaj chap, xxvi., ** Unde annum quoque ipsum non in totidem digerunt species : 
hiems et ver et aestas intellectum et vcx:abula habent ; autumni perinde nomen et bona 
ignorantur." 

* Ptutsche Mythologity p. 717. 

A 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



3 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

the name of autumnus for the harvest of grain, but for the gathering of 
fruit, vintage, and after-math, things which were at that time unknown to 
the Germans. But such a view is scarcely tenable. For Tacitus speaks 
decidedly of the seasons as such, and in the case of autumnus^ at the non- 
existence of which the Romans might wonder, he makes an explanatory and 
rather melancholy observation. In course of time, on a closer study of 
the questions connected with the Germanic partition of the year, extensive 
material has been discovered which undoubtedly goes to support Tacitus. 
Grimm himself lived to collect part of it, and to admit that he had been 
wrong.^ 

Another scholar has told us that he knows better than Tacitus, and that 
the ancient Germans had the word herbst^ with the meaning ** time of fruits." 
But that word seems to have meant originally, just like English harvest^ 
the act of reaping the ripe grain and fruits, and not the time of their 
ripeness, though it was later used to denote the period of bringing in the 
harvest. Considerations of that kind can as little influence our judgment 
on Tacitus' report as can the fact that we are unable to say exactly 
which German word he meant to correspond with Latin ver^ spring; for 
springs lent (German Lenz\ and Friihling are, as is generally admitted, of 
later growth. 

The tri-partition of the Germanic year is an unshakable fact. It has 
been preserved for a very long time on l^al ground. The three seasons 
answer to the three not-ordered law courts, />., the three annual legal 
meetings which were fixed by tradition and not called by special royal 
ordinance. This fact is even admitted by Professor Weinhold of Berlin in 
his book on the German division of the year, who, on the whole, takes 
the view that the Germanics, just like the Romans, quartered their year 
according to solstices and equinoxes.^ Professor Weinhold, however, there 
concedes so much as to acknowledge that those law courts were originally 
held at the beginning of winter, in spring, and about midsummer: whilst 
later the beginning of winter, midwinter, spring; midwinter, Easter, mid- 



* Geschichte der deutschm Sprache, Leipzig, 1848, Vol L, p. 74. 
« Uber die deutscke Jahrteilung, Kiel, 1862, p. 8. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE GERMANIC YEAR 3 

summer; and February, May, autumn, took the place of those terms. 
Professor Weinhold gives ^ proofs for the several cases. Others agree with 
him in this proposition. So the greatest German authority on chronology, 
Grotefend, says : ^ *» The tri-partition of the year has been preserved 
almost exclusively in juridical relations, and there finds its principal appli- 
cation in the so-called dreidinge^ echtendinge^ echtendage, or etting^ the 
not-ordered law court of the country, which was held at three terms in 
the year. The terms vary, though with a general prevalence of midwinter 
(or beginning of winter), Easter, and midsummer (also the Twelve-nights, 
Easter, and Pentecost, or St John's day), the basis of the tri-partition being 
a division of the year into winter, spring, and summer." 

The capitulary of Louis the Pious, of 817, ordains "i« anno tria 
solummodo generaiia placida^^^ which, of course, can only be taken as a 
codification of existing law, and not as a creation of a new jurisdiction. 
This usage lived on till at least the fifteenth century.* The fact of the 
early existence of three German annual law courts is so generally admitted 
that it is an exception for any authority to disagree. And even those who 
disagree have to account for a number of important indisputable facts. So 
Pfannenschmid,^ believing that there were four Germanic law assemblies 
annually, finds it extremely strange that far more frequently only three such 
assemblies are enumerated, and that the examples of four assemblies are 
both rarer and later than those of three. 

In Anglo-Saxon times the tri-partition of the year was preserved in 
the mode of paying the wages of female servants, who received a sheep 
for the feast at the beginning of winter, a measure of beans for the mid- 
lent dinner (Sunday Invocavit\ and whey ' on sumera ' (corresponding 



* Uber die deutscke Jahrteilung, Kiel, 1862, pp. 18, 19. 

^ Zeitrechnung des deutschen Mittelalters^ 1 89 1, p. 90, Jahresztiten, 
'Sohm, Frankiscke Reichs- und Geruhtsverfassung^ p. 398. 

* ** 1407 in unsen geheygeden gerichten to Luneborch drie des jares to den eddagen " 
(Centralarchiv zu Oldenburg), Grotefend, Zeitrechnung, II., 2, 194, Hannover und 
Leipzig, 1898. 

* Gcrmanische EmtefestCy 1878, p. 338. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



4 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

to Old Icelandic *a/ sumrt\* i.e., June 9), which is about July 10.^ It not 
only appears from the value of the gifts mentioned that the gift for the 
winter feast was the largest, but besides the enumeration of the three tenns 
begins with that term, as the old Germanic, and so late as in the eleventh 
century the economic, year began with it.^ 

In the thirteenth century three terms existed in some districts of Eng- 



* Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ I., 436, 7, "Rectitudo Andllae : Uni ancillae viii. pondia 
annonae ad victum. i. ovis vel ill. denarios, ad hiemale companagium, i. sester fabae ad 
quadragesimalem convictum. In estate suum hweig vel i. denarium ; Be Wifmonna 
Metsunge. Dheowan wiftnen viii. pund comes to mete, i. sceap odhdhe in. peningas to 
winter-sufle, I. syster beana to Isengten-sufle. hwaeig on sumera odhdhe i. pening." 

*Male servants also received three such gifts a year (/^V/., I., 436, 7: ** Omnibus 
ehtemannis jure competit Natalis firma, et Paschalis sulhaecer, id est, carruce acra, et 
manipulus Augusti in augmentum jure debiti recti; Eallum aehte-mannum geb)rredh Mid- 
winter feorm. and Eastor-feorm sulh-aecer. and haerfest-handful. to-eacan heora nyd-rihte "), 
though two of the terms for these had, in the eleventh century, shifted to the two Christian 
festivals, Christmas and Easter, while the third had, in the same direction, moved onwards 
to August. The payment of shepherds* wages is regulated not so much by an old 
tri-partition of the year as by the development of sheep during the year {Ibid,^ I., 438, 9 : 
" Pastoris ovium rectum est, ut habeat dingiam xil. noctium in Natali Domini, et i. agnum 
de juventute hornotina, et I. belflis, id est, timpani vellus, et lac gregis sui, vii. noctibus 
ante equinoctium, et blede, id est, cuppam plenam mesgui de siringia, tota estate ; Sceap- 
hyrdes riht is that he hsebbe twelf nihta dhingan to Middan-wintra. and i. lamb of geares 
geogedhe. and I. bel-flys. and his heorde meolc vii. niht aefter emnihtes da^e. and blede fuUe 
hweges odhdhe syringe ealne sumor"), just as the payment of goatherds is (/3w/., I., 438, 9 : 
" Caprarius convenit lac gregis sui post festum Sancti Martini, et antea pars sua mesgui, et 
capricum anniculum, si bene custodiat gr^em suum ; Be Git-hyrde. Gdt-hyrde gebyredh his 
heorde meolc ofer Martinus maesse dseig. and aer dham his dael hwaeges. and i. ticcen of geares 
geogodhe. gif he his heorde wel b^ymedh "). The dinners given to the farm servants varied 
considerably about 1030, being held partly at the two Christian festivals, Christmas and Easter, 
partly at other times {Ibtd,^ I., p. 440, i : *' In quibusdam locis datur firma Natalis 
Domini, et firma Paschalis, et firma precum ad congregandas segetes, et gutfirma ad 
arandum, et firma pratorum fenandorum et hreaccroppum, id est, macoli summitas, et 
firma ad macolum fisidendum. In terra nemorosa, lignum plaustri ; in terra uberi, caput 
macholi : et alia plurima fuerint a pluribus, quorum hoc viaticum sit, et quod supra diximus ; 
on sumere [in some I] dheode gebyredh winter-feorm. Easter-feorm. ben-form for ripe, gyt- 
feonn for yrdhe maedh-med hreac-mete. aet wudu-lade waen-treow. set com-lade hreac-copp. 
and fela dhinga de ic getellan ne maeig. Dhis is dheah myngung manna biwiste and eal that 
ic aer beforan ymbcrehte **). 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE GERMANIC YEAR 5 

land.^ On German ground it is the very same. To give at least one 
instance, which covers both the law courts and the terms of payment from 
the twelfth century: on Jan. 9, 1106, Archbishop Frederick I. of Cologne 
fixed at 14 solidi the fee to be paid to the provost of Gerresheim on each 
of the three annual law-days.^ 

However well established these facts are, etymology cannot be adduced 
in favour of an ancient tri-partition of the Germanic year ; ancient names 
of three ancient seasons cannot be given ; nay, etymology decidedly 
points to a dual division.' We have, therefore, to accept this as a fact, 
as well warranted as the tri-partition of the economic year itself. Whilst 
no other Aryan language possesses the same terms denoting a period of 
about a hundred and eighty days, all Germanic languages have in common 
the two words winter and summer^ whilst there is no third season-name 
to join them. Nay, even more: the word winter appears in no Aryan 
language except the Germanic, all other Aryan languages using for the 
denomination of the coldest season of the year a word from a root ghim 
ighiem) which means snow or storm (Greek x*V^)> so that we have Latin 
hiems^ Greek x^'-H'^^f O^^ Bulgarian and Zend zima, Sanskrit himanta. We 
know of no root from which winter might be derived, the derivation from 
wind being excluded on philological grounds. With the word summer it 
is not much different. It appears in all Germanic languages as the name 
of the warmer half of the year, but exists in no other Aryan language, 
notwithstanding that words from the same root, though formed by means 
of other suffixes and having a similar or the same significance, are found 
in several of them, such as Sanskrit sam&^ year ; Zend hama^ summer ; 
Armenian amarn^ summer; Cymric ham^ haf^ summer. 



^Nasse, Uber mitielalterluhe Feldgemeinschaft in England^ Bonn, 1869, p. 51, Ur- 
barium of the Monastery of Worcester of the thirteenth century, fol. 103*^ : "In hoc 
manerio sunt 8 virgatae servilis conditionis, quarum quaelibet, si censat, dabit ad quemlibet 
trium terminorum I2<* pro omni servitio, ut dicunt." 

' Kessel, Der seiige Gerrich^ Stifter der Abtei Gerresheim^ DUsseldorf, 1877, p. 187. 

'On the dual division of the original Aryan year, compare O. Schrader, Die aelteste 
Zeitteilung des indogermanischen Volkes, Berlin, Habel, 1878, pp. 1 1 s»., where the 
et3rmologica] parallels of hiems and ver are given. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



6 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

When Hildebrand, in the Old-High-German Hildebr and sited ^ describes 
his thirty years' wanderings, he says: 

**Ih wall6ta sumaro enti wintro sehstic ur lante;"^ 

Anglo-Saxon legal language having the same phrase. So the laws of Ine 
provide that the wife of a ceorl who died, if she has a child, should be 
given, in addition to vi. shillings, "a cow in summer and an ox in winter ";2 
also that a ceorPs close ought to be fenced winter and summer.^ These 
two names do not stand alone as the supports of a dual division ; there is 
a number of other phrases which show that the dual division of the year 
was extremely familiar to the Germanic mind. To denote the whole 
course of a year, especially in legal language, the terms were used : im 
rise und im /dve,^ im rikuen und im bidten,^ and bt strd and bt grase.^ 

Etymology shows that the dual division of the year was of Aryan 
home growth; and the very fact that etymology fails as to the tri-partition 
goes a long way to prove that the tri-partition is of foreign extraction. It 
certainly is so, and, as far as we can see, it is of Egyptian origin, 
although it was taken over by the Aryans very early, perhaps even at 
the time before they divided into self-dependent tribes which evolved 
idioms of their own. Ewald sums up his investigations as to the division 
of the Oriental year as follows:^ "People in those countries of Asia and 
Africa, according to all evidence, had at first three equal seasons. These 
were fixed in the most ancient Egyptian almanac, and according to that 
fact in the hieroglyphic writings, the four months of each of these seasons 

^Braune, Althochdadschts Lesebuch, Halle, 1881, p. 77. A St. Gall document of 
A.D. 858 mentions two brothers, Wintar and Sumar (O. Schrader, Die aelteste ZMeilung 
des indogermanischen Volkes^ Berlin, Habel, 1878, p. 18). On the combats between 
Winter and Summer, compare Uhland's Voiksliedtr. Prof. Max MUller*s attempts to show 
in Greek legends a great number of similar traits seem to me to be rather bold. 

^Ancient Laws and Institutes of England {tA, by Thorpe), London, 1840, I., p. 126, 
xxxviii. : ** c{i on sumera. oxan on wintra." 

^ Ibid,, p. 126, XV.: **wintres ond sumeres." 

* Grimm, Deutsc/u Kechtsaltertumer, III., 256, 258. ^ Ibid,, III., 249. 

^ Ibid,, III., 31, 62, 130, 190, 223; Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des dmtschen Afittd- 
alters, I., 77. 

' Die Altertiinur d€S Volkes Israel, 3rd. ed., pp. 455, 456. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE GERMANIC YEAR 7 

being very simply counted as the first, the second, etc"^ About the 
earliest Indian year Grimm remarks :* " In earliest antiquity the year seems 
to have been divided into three parts only, the Indians distinguishing either 
vasantay spring ; grtschma, summer ; and sarad^ raining time ; or, according 
to the oldest commentator of the Veda : grischma^ summer ; varscha^ raining 
time; himanta^ winter; and elsewhere six seasons. The Greeks had €a/», 
spring; Bkpo^, summer; X"/^"* winter." The early Aryans, like the Orientals 
in general, subdivided their three large seasons into six smaller, of the 
duration of about three-score days each. Ewald, after the passage just 
quoted, goes on to say:' "A further step was to divide each of the three 
seasons into halves and so count six seasons. This habit became law in 
ancient India, as is shown by K&lid^a's Ritusanhdra, but it must also 
have once been prevalent in Syriac and Arabic countries. The proof of 
this is the fact that, in the Syriac as well as in the Arabic almanac, 
firequently two subsequent months are distinguished as the first and second 
of the same 'tide,' and that tide after which they are called is evidently 
a season. The distinction between a first and second month according to 
such seasons has, it is true, only effect when the months, at least in 
principle, are at the same time calculated by means of the solar year. But, 
as we know, that was the case pretty early.'* ^ 

These very same three-score-day tides are found among the Germanics, 
Eastern and Western. But the strange fact that no satisfactory Germanic 
or even Aryan etymology can be given for the oldest names of Germanic 
three-score-day tides, Jiuleis (Gothic), Lida^ Hlyda (Anglo-Saxon), and per- 
haps Rheday Hreda (Anglo-Saxon), and Hornung, Horowunc (German), seems 



* Lepsius, Chronologic der Aegypter^ I., p. 134. 

^Gtschichie der deutschen Sprache, 1848, I., p. 72. ^ Ibid,^ p. 456. 

*0. Schroder is the first to avoid the presupposition that the early Aryans based 
their partition of the year on a knowledge of the stars. He did so with full consciousness 
(O. Schrader, Die aelteste Zeiiteilung des indogermanischen Volkes^ Berlin, (label, 1878, 
pp. 24), 32, and expressly says that the three roots used for denoting sun in the Aryan 
languages contain no element referring in any way to time or partition of time, whilst as 
regards the moon he attributes to her merely a secondary rank in that respect, and remarks 
that the origin of the months dates from no earlier period than the time when the Aryan 
tribe had split into several peoples. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



8 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

to point to the probability that these names, like the institutions they denote, 
have their origin beyond the world of the Aryan family of languages and 
natibns, and were borrowed from Egyptian and Syriac, or some other 
Oriental language, together with the six three-score-day tides which formed 
the course of a year. This probability is enhanced by the fact that Gothic 
Jiuleis in the forms tAatbs, lovAatos, tovXtrjos, and lovXios is found to denote 
the time from Dec. 22 to Jan. 23 in old Cyprus,^ which can scarcely be 
ascribed to chance. It is Jacob Grimm's merit to have gathered a number 
of important facts which show the same habit to have prevailed among 
several Aryan tribes, including the Germanics. 

"Stress is to be laid," says he,^ "on the connection of two (or even 
three) subsequent months through the same name, which connection seems 
to be a relic of an original partition of the whole of the year into six (or 
four)* parts. Thus, among the Anglo-Saxons, there appeared a double 
/idAa for the pair June-July, which elsewhere also appears bound together 
as brachot-houwot^ or the two resailie-mois, and a double geoia. Thus, in 
Middle-High-German, there appears a double ougest^ a double wintermonat^ 
(a threefold herbstmonat), January and February are even much later 
singled out as the large and the small horn\ nay, here and there we find 
the second of two months presented as the wife of the first, and a sporkel 
followed by a spbrkelsin and an ougest by an ogstin. Likewise we find 
among the Slavs a small and a large traven^ a small and a large serpan, 
where the small precedes the large one, whilst our small horning succeeds 
the large horn. (The Liineburg Wenden also made a first wintermonat^ 
September, precede the other, which was December.) According to Slavic 
order, however, the small cerwen preceded the large hrwenec. Something 
similar is found in the Celtic midu and michrundu for November and 
December; ephan^ summer, and gorephan^ main summer, for June and July. 

* K. Fr. Hermann, Ub^ Gruchiscke Monatskunde^ Gottingen, 1844, p. 64. 

^GeschUhte der deuischm Sprachey 1848, I., iios. 

•I put in round brackets what seems to me to be wrong in Grimm's argument. 
When the meaning of the common heading of two subsequent months was forgotten, and 
Roman quarters of years had become popular, a third month was sometimes added under 
the same name, a usage to which the intercalary month may have led. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE GERMANIC YEAR 9 

Even the gipsies, whose month-names are given by Pott (I, 116), style 
June and July by the cognate names nutibi and nunuftde; and in Albanese 
yooTi and yoa^oPi&rrt for August and November we have the same thing. 
This coupling is in my eyes a testimony of great age. (The Attic calendar 
in the leap year added another Tloo'€tB€<ov after the first, as the Jews did 
after their adar, a veadar or other adar,) The Arabic lunar year still 
shows its months connected in six regular pairs : rcH el awd and rebl el 
accher, dschem&di el awel and dschemddi el accher^ dsulkade and dsulhedsche. 
The Syriac year shows a theschrin I. and II. and a khamm I. and II. ; 
whilst in the Persian and Jewish calendar this coupling has been lost. But 
it is quite apparent in the division of the Indian year into six parts, each 
of which embraces two months, most of which have cognate names, viz. : 
vasantOy spring, contains the months madhu^ mead or honey, and mddkava^ 
honey sweet; griscAma, summer, contains the months shukra, the light one, 
and shukhij the shining one ; varscha^ the raining tide, contains the months 
nabhas^ cloud (Latin nubes^ Slavic neboy cloudy sky), and nabhasja^ the 
cloudy one; sarad^ sultry tide, contains the months hcha and iirgha^ the 
nourishing one; himanta^ winter, contains the months sahas^ strength, and 
sabasja, the strong one ; sisira^ dew tide, contains the months tapasy warmth, 
and tapasja^ the warm one. The relation of the names tapas and tapasja^ 
nabhas and nabhasia, sahas and sahasja^ madhu and niddhava is analogous 
to sporkel and sporkelsin^ ongest and bugstin ; gosti and gostobieste, terwen 
and lerweneCy and the Sanskrit names given here seem to be more popular 
than the learned ones, which were fixed for the Miijas\ and through the 
division of the Indian year into six seasons, the division of the Germanic 
year into three seasons, which immediately proceeds from it, is justified in 
a way that must be welcome to us." Further on^ he says, "A connection 
between our month-names and the six Indian seasons, and the coupling 
always of two subsequent months, which proceeds from them, must be 
acknowledged.''^ 

^ Geschichte der cUutschen Spracluy p. 113. 

' In Mahibhiirata the six Indian seasons vasanta^ grtsma^ varsa, (aradt hemanta^ and 
^ra are represented as six men who play at golden and silver dice (O. Schrader, Di$ 
aelteste Zeitteilung des indogermanischen Votkes^ Berlin, Habel, 1878, p. 22). 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



lo VULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Grimm indicates in a general way the facts that point to an early six- 
partition of the Germanic year. But since his day so much material 
bearing upon the point has accumulated, that it is necessary to 
enumerate the most important items of it. On the Nether-Rhine the 
division of the year into six tides or periods of sixty days each was known 
till so late as the fourteenth century, although then it was thought to be 
antiquated as compared with the new Romano-Christian way of deter- 
mining seasons. As the starting-point people then, as of old, took one of 
the three ends of the seasons, July 12, counting from then to September 
17, November 11, January 13, March 17, and May 12, by ancient Ger- 
manic three-score day tides or half seasons. Neither eight weeks nor nine 
weeks exactly covering these tides, eight weeks and nine weeks were 
alternately taken. On November 11, therefore, winter began, on March 
17 early summer, and on July 12 later summer.^ 

It is rather difficult to say what were the names of these Germaaic 
three-score-day tides, although in German legal and literary documents there 
occur quite numerous denominations which clearly cover a longer time than 
a month, and yet neither amount to three nor to four months. 

Such are, e,g.y in der brache, in der zudbracJuy in der herbstsai^ in der 
ernty im hauwet, im hanffluchet^ ze afterhalme und houwe,^ in der bonenarueJ* 
Others are im br&chet^ im wimmot^ in der sdt, in dem sniie^ laubbrost^ and 
laubrise^^ haberschnitt, and habererndiCy covering August and September, and 

* ** Urbarium of the Monastery of St. Victor, Xanten," in the State- Archive, DUsseldorf, 
under **Stift Xanten," R, No. 8*, leaf 8*. The passage was communicated to me, like all 
the unprinted material referring to the Rhine-country and Tirol, by Dr. Armin Tille of 
Bonn. It runs : ** Item notandum, quod secundum antiquum modum computandi 
servicium potest poni per certos terminos infra dictos, scilicet a festo MargareU (ubi 
annus incipit) usque Latnberti sunt 9 ebdomade, item a Lamberti usque Martini sunt 
octo ebdomade, item a Martini usque ad fesium baculi^ quod est octava epiphanie, et 
sunt 9 ebdomade. Item a festo baculi usque Gertrudis sunt 9 ebdomade, item a festo 
Gertrudis usque ad festum Pancracii sunt 8 ebdomade, item a festo Pancracii usque 
Margarete sunt novem ebdomade et faciunt simul unum annum, scilicet 52 ebdomadas." 

•Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsaltertiimer^ III., 546. 

^Ibid,, I., 419. ^Ibid,, I., 673, 679. 

"Neocorus, II., 75, 4265 Weinhold, Deutsche Jahrteilung^ 1862, p. 13. 

^Weinhold, Die deutschen Monatnameny Halle, 1869, p. 2. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE GERMANIC YEAR It 

sometimes even including the time from July 25 to August i.^ To these 
Ufiz (lent, A.S. lengien) and herbst (harvest) in their, medieval senses are to 
be added, the latter being on German ground frequently replaced by augst 
(August), which, however, covers a longer time than August, so that July 25, 
St. James's day, can be cdW^d Jacobstag im augst,'^ It was out of such words 
that the Germanic month-names were formed in the second half-millennium 
of our era, after the Roman calendar had become popular among the 
Germanics. So Professor Weinhold ^ seems to be of opinion that in der trne 
is older than the month-name emtmitnot\ that im brdchet and im houwet 2itQ 
older than brcichmonat\ and that hcumat and im wimmot are older than 
windumemanot \ and he expressly states that, according to his belief, in der 
sdt and in dem snite have given origin to sdtmdn and schniimonat, and that 
laubbrost and iaubrtse under our eyes become, by being taken in a narrower 
sense, something like month-names.^ Beside these words English expres- 
sions like fali^ backend^ ^^ houl d winter^^ are to be placed, and perhaps, 
also, two other words which later were used to correspond to Latin ver 
and autumnus. For ver the Western Germanics took a root, lang^ perhaps 
connected with long^ forming out of it a term for the time when the 
days grow longer (Old-High-German langizy lenzo^ /f«-8r/« ; Middle-High- 
German lenze\ Dutch lente\ Anglo-Saxon lengten^ lencten\ English lent\ 
which, however, cannot be traced beyond the Western Germanic, not to 
mention the common Germanic.^ This makes it rather likely that it was 
not the name of an old three-score-day tide, but was formed new. The 
term adopted to correspond to autumnus is also confined to Western Ger- 
manic, although its root is common Aryan property. It is Old-High- 



*Grotefend, Die Zeitrechnung des deutschen Mittclalters, 1 891, I., 79. 
*Grotefend, Zeitrechnung^ I., 87. 

* Die deutschen Monatnamen^ Halle, 1869, pp. I, 2. 

*If Neocorus, II., 315, explains in hcrwman edder in der hawame (Weinhold, Ibid.^ 
p. 13), it follows that he regarded the term honvarne as still more popular than the newly 
formed word hmvman, 

* Since the fifteenth century it has been in German supplanted by the term Friihling 
(from frUh^ Gothic frdy * early ; Greek irpwt), and in English by spring (cp. I Sam, ix. 26, 
** about the spring of the day"; Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV, iv. 4. 35, *• since the middle 
summer's spring"). 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



12 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

German herbist, Middle- High-German htrbest^ Dutch herfsty Anglo-Saxon 
harfest^ English harvesfy and belongs to Latin carpere^ to pluck, and 
Greek Kapiros, fruit^ 

Yet more important than these rather vague terms are several others 
which can be proved to have exactly covered a Germanic tide of three- 
score days. They are the more striking since, in two cases, it is simply 
Roman month-names which are used for denoting a tide of two months, 
so that two subsequent Roman months among the Germanics are fre- 
quently called by the same name, the first being called the former, and 
the second the latter month of that designation; whilst some Germanic 
names of the same kind are of very great age. 

The Scandinavian summer of six months is divided into three tides 
called VaarmoancTy Sumarmoanery and Haustmoaner '^ herbst as denoting 
the two months September and October is very common in the Middle 
Ages, so that the former month is called der erste herbst^ and the latter der 
andere herbst? 

In a Gothic calendarium of the sixth century^ November, or Naubaimbairy 



^Scandinavian haust or host is probably to be derived from August, which in the 
Middle Ages appeared as oust. In English the Germanic word harvest in the later sense 
of a season was completely superseded by Romance autumn. 

^Weinhold, Altnordisches Leben, Berlin, 1856, pp. 371-383. 

*Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des deutschcn Mittelalters, I., 84; Weinhold, Deutsche Monat- 
nametty pp. 15, 42. There appears even a dritt herbst for November. The naming of 
three subsequent months as first, second, and third augst or herbst admits of several explana- 
tions. The Roman quarter of a year having taken the place of the old third, it was but 
natural that all the three months forming it should have received a common name ; there 
is no doubt that in this way herbst, which simply meant harvest, advanced to the meaning 
of the season of autumn. This is the more likely, since the tripling of the month-name 
is found just in that season, which, according to Tacitus, among the Germanics had no 
name. Beda also has such a tripling in the case of the Lida month, though for another 
purpose, viz., for forming an intercalary month for the leap year. His June, July, and 
third Lida covering to a large extent the same ground as the July, August, and Septem- 
ber, called the three herbste or augste, it may seem probable that the leap year had also 
to do with the origination of the series of three months bearing the same name. That 
it was August which was doubled may be inferred from Northic ivtrndnadhr, double-month, 
which is the name for August, and has not been understood by Professor Weinhold. 

*Moritz Heyne, UlfilaSy Paderbom und Mtlnstcr, 1885, p, 226. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE GERMANIC YEAR 



'3 



is called fruma JiuIdSy which presupposes that December was called *qftuma 
liulets] in Beda's list of Germanic month-names^ it is stated that the 
Anglo-Saxons called December and January together Giuli^ for which, later, 
the terms csrra Geola and (Eftera Geola were used ; in the same place Beda 
states that the Anglo-Saxons called June and July osrra Lida and (Bftera 
Uda respectively; in Middle Germany up to this day January is called 
der grosse Horn, February der kleine Horn, Both names together occur in 
Christian Wolfs Mathematical Dictionary, Leipzig, 1742, which borrowed 
all kinds of things from the dialects spoken in Saxony; but Homung 
(%,€,, small Horn or son of Horn) is found among the list ot German 
month-names composed by Charlemagne, and brought down to us by his 
biographer Eginhart.^ It being the only name in the list which is not a 
compound of mdndth, it is bound to be of ancient German origin. The 
forms occurring elsewhere are Hornung, Homing, homer and horn^ 

As a rule, der erst herbst is September,* and der ander herbst 
October.^ But November also appears as der ander herbst,^ though more 
frequently as der drit herbst^ September also being called Uberherbst? 
It shows a state of things a little further advanced when, as is frequently 
the case, der erste and der andere herbst are replaced by der erste and der 
andere herbstmonat -^^ likewise there are numerous examples for November 

^ De Tefnporum RaHoru^ chap. xv. * Vita Caroli Afagnt\ chap. xxix. 

'Grotefend, Zdtrtchnung des deutschen AfUtelalters und der Neuzeit^ i89i» I., 86. I 
should be inclined to see in Horn the name of an old German three-score-day tide, just 
as in Yule and Lida. Compare on Horn, however, Weinhold, Deutsche Monatnamen^ p. 45. 

* Diefenbach, Novum Glossarium, 32 ; Codex Gemtanicus Moncuensis, 93, 398, 700, 730 ; 
Grazer KaUnder\ **der erst heribst," Codex Gemtanicus Monacensis, 349. 

' Klingenberger JCronik, 343 ; Diefenbach, Novum Glossarium, 32 ; Codex Germ, Monac, 
93» 398, 480, 700, 730, 771 ; Grater Kalmder; Huber, "der ander herbst," Giess, MS,, 
978; Weinhold, Die deutschen Monatnamen, pp. 41, 42. 

• Codex Germ. Monac., 32. 

' Diefenbach, Novum Glossarium, 32 ; Codex Germ. Monac. , 349, 730. 

^ Tegemseer JCcUender; Weinhold, Ilnd., p. 42. 

•Grimm, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, I., p. 85; Zellweger^ No. 191, a. 1407; 
Weinhold, Deutsche Monatnamen, p. 15, note, and pp. 42, 43, where a long list of cases is 
given. November is sometimes called der dritt herbistmanot {Ibid., p. 43), and December 
der vierd herbistmonad ox letst herbistmoneth (Grotefend, Zeitrechnung, I., 84), a feet which 
leads us beyond Roman quarters of years into Germanic thirds of years. Unserfraum 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



14 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

being called der erst winter^ and December being called der ander winter 
(and even January being named manot des hindrosten winters) -^ so November 
is also called der erst wintermaneid^ and December der ander wintermaneid? 
or der lest wintermond.^ On Bavarian ground, a Tegernsee calendar ^ calls 
March and April das erst acker monat and das ander ackermonat ;® to these 
cases two others are to be added, in which Roman month-names are used 
for the same purposes. There is quite an abundance of instances in which 
May is called der erst may, and June der ander may\^ the same holds good 
for der erst augst, meaning August, and der ander augst, meaning September, 
so that even the term occurs : in den tzweyen augsten^ In the Diocese 



dtUttag in dem ersten herbstmanode^ Sept. 8, a.d. 1290, Pilgram ; Grotefend, Zeitrechnung^ 
I., 68. 

'See Weinhold, DeiUsche Monatnamen, p. 61. ^ Ibid,, p. 62. ^ /bid,^ p. 62. 

* Grotefend, Zcitrechnung^ I., 208, where also an instance is given of February being 
called der Utzte wintertnonat, A.D. 1536, Ulm, which again points to four winter months 
or Germanic thirds of years. 

'Pfeiffer, Germania^ IX., 192 f. ; Weinhold, Deutsche Monatnamen^ 14. 

® Grotefend, Zeitrechnung^ I., i. 

■'Weinhold, Deutsche MoncUnamen^ pp. 13, 50, where a whole group of old Bavarian 
almanacs is mentioned which has this peculiarity ; Grimm, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, 
1848, I., 84, according to a Cassel manuscript of A.D. 1445. About some Alemannic 
and Swabian almanacs, comp. Weinhold, Ibid.y p. 15. 

^ Muglen bet Kovachichf p. 4 ; Grimm, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, 1848, I., p. 85. 
In some Bavarian almanacs August and September are called der erste and der andere 
augst (Diefenbach, Nazmm Glossarium Latinchgertnanicum, Francofurli, 1857, 34, and 
Tegemseer Fischbiichlein) ; so it is on Alemannic and Swabian ground (Weinhold, Deutsche 
Monatnamen^ P» '5 » Codex Gemianicus Afonacensis, 32 ; Diefenbach, Novum Glossarium^ 
34 ; Mone, Anzeiger^ VIII., 496) ; da- ander ougst is September (Grimm, Geschichte der 
deutschen Sprache^ p. 85). Among the German communities of Valsugan and on the 
hills between Brenta and Drau, August is called erster Aux^ and September ander ts 
AuXf a form in which it also appears in some Roman documents of Rhaetia (Hormayr, 
Geschichte der gefiirsteten Grafschaft Tirol ^ Tubingen, 1806, Part I., Section I, p. 141). 
Der erste august means August in Tegemseer Fischbuch ; der erst awgst^ Giessen MS, , 978 ; 
der erst awst^ Codex Gemianicus Monacensis^ 32 ; whilst der ander augst may be August 
{Codex Germanicus Monacensis, 93, 398, 700, 848, 3384; Giessen MS. 978; Gmund*s 
/Calender \ Grazer /Calender ; Huberts Kalender \ der andere auste^ Diefenbach, Novum 
Glossarium, 4), or September (Megenberg, Diefenbach, Nozmm Glossarium, 34 ; Tegemseer 
Fischbuch (der ander august)). In the xiii. comuni there are even three Agester, 
meaning August, September, October {Cimbr, Worterbuch, 107; Weinhold, Die deutschen 
Monatnamen^ p. 32). 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE GERMANIC YEAR 



15 



of Constanz August is called ougst^ and September Haberougst} or August 
is called erster aux^ and September ander aux? or August is called augest^ 
and September AugsHn^ oegsten^ auwestin, />., the small augest} Sometimes 
July is called der erste augst, and August der ander augst^ Though Augstine 
and Aygsien appear a few times as meaning August,^ on the whole Ougstine, 
!>., small August, means September ;« nay, there even appears for September 
the compound Herbistouwistinne^ and the word HaberougsL^ So Konrad 
von Dankrotsheun in his Namefibuch * names August and September ougst 
and oegstin. On the other hand, augstmdnd, auistmaent^ austmaent, owest- 
man mean August exclusively.^*^ 

There is nothing whatever in the Roman calendar which can be said 
to have been suggestive of that strange custom, so that we have good 
reason for claiming it as a relic of a pre-Roman Germanic usage. If it 
was able to influence the Roman calendar so far as to force upon it the 
three-score-day tide, it must needs have been most deeply rooted and 
firmly established among the Germanic tribes in East and West, North and 
South. Not only is the sixfold division of the Germanic year a most important 
fact in itself, but it also furnishes us with the means of reconciling the 
seeming contradiction, according to which the Germanics at the same time 
had a dual division and a tri-partition of the year. The units of which 



* Ekinger Spitalbuch^ Germanic Museum, NUmberg, No. 7008. 

' Sette communi ; Schmeller-Frommann, Bayriscfus IVbrterbuch^ 54 ; Grotefend, 
Zeitrechnungi I., 14. 

• Schmeller-Frommami, Bayrisches WorUrbuch^ 54 (1453, Baselland) ; Grotefend, 
Zeiirechnungy L, 14. Grimm explained the term wrongly as the wife of August. 

* Grotefend, Zeitrechnung, I., 14. ^ Codex Gerrfianicus Monacensisy 771. 

• Codex Germanuus Monacensis^ 558 (Schmeller, P, 54), Ougstin^ Dankrolsheim ; 
Augstifty Dasypodius 488d (1537); Ougsten, Diefenbach, Novum Glossarium^ 40; Oegstin^ 
Dankrotsheim ; Ouwestin^ Koditz, Leben des heiligen Ludwigy Leipzig, 1 85 1, 40, 61; 
Owestiuy Hermann von Fritslar {Myst, I., 195) ; Weinhold, Deutsche Monatnafnetty p. 32 ; 
Grotefend, Zeiirechnungy I., 14. 

'Koditz, L^en des heiligen Ludwigy Leipzig, 187 1, 66. 
" Ehinger Spitalbuch ; Weinhold, Deutsche Monainameny p. 39. 
•Weinhold, Ibid,y p. 16; Strobel, Beitrdge zur deutschen Literatur und IMeraiur- 
geschtchtCy Paris, Strassburg, 1827, p. 109 ss. 

"Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des MittelalterSy Hannover, 1891, I., 14. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



1 6 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

their year consisted were sixths, and it is apparent that of these tides 
either two could each time be grouped together to form thirds, or thr6e 
could be grouped together each time to form halves. At the same time 
the simple fact of sixths being the units constituent of the Germanic year 
excludes any quartering of the year, since a quarter would consist of one- 
sixth and a half, and would thus most seriously interfere with the unity of 
the three-score-day tide. If Professor Weinhold^ says the dual division of 
the Germanic year was dislodged by a tri-partition, he is entirely in error; 
for so little can be said of a dislodgment of one mode by the other that 
for a long prehistoric period both existed peacefully alongside each other, 
and appear thus at the dawn of history. The Oriental tri-partition of the 
year would probably not have so deeply rooted itself in the Germanic mind 
had it not been supported by the economic and climatic conditions of the 
country they emigrated to. There the most decided season, the winter, 
fills, on an average, a period of exactly four months, which naturally leads 
to a division of the rest of the year into two equal parts of four months 
each. And the economic year was no less naturally divided into three 
parts — the rest of the plough, the cultivation and reaping of the grass, and 
the harvest^ There is no reason to take refuge in speculations about 
symbols and the religious opinions of the early Germanics to explain their 
division of the year. Economic conditions have at all times weighed much 
heavier than fancies. The centre of animal activity, as well as of the 
strivings, hopes, and dreams of men, was in pre-Roman Germanic times, 
as it is now, to win food and to get on in life — in early times by hunting 
and keeping cattle, later on by cultivation of meadows, and finally by agri- 
culture in addition. Then as now the endless generation of human beings 
and the endless competition for the means of subsistence among them, 
which two factors have at all times determined the fates of families, tribes, 
nations, and races, pressed upon individuals, and compelled them to work 
by leaving them, if unwilling to do so, the alternative of perishing. 

^ Deutsche Jahrteilungt 1862, p. 7. 
*Weinhold, Deutsche /ahrteilung, 1862, p. 7. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER II. 

THE BEGINNING OF THE ANGLOGERMAN YEAR. 

Both Caesar and Tacitus tell us that the Germans did not count by 
days as the Romans did, but by nights, reckoning the vigilia or eve as 
part of the following day.^ This habit lived on unbroken through the 
Middle Ages, and is still living among us, so that we count by fortnights 
instead of by fourteen days, and speak of the Twelve-nights of Christ- 
mas-time. It was taken over by the early Church, as we know by so 
good an authority as the Venerable Beda, as regards festivals at least^ In 
the same way the Germanics reckoned by winters instead of by summers, 
counting the winter and the summer which followed it a» one year, a 
custom which, however, is not exclusively Germanic* The Saxon Chronicle 

'Caesar, Btllum Gallicum^ Book VI., chap. xviiL : ** Spatia omnis temporis non numero 
dierum, sed noctium finiunt; dies natales et mensium et annorum initia observant, ut 
noctem dies subsequatur." Tacitus, Germania^ chap. xi. : '* Coeunt nisi quid fortuitum 
et subitum incidit, certis diebus, cum aut inchoatur luna aut impletur ; nam agendis 
rebus hoc auspicatissimum initium credunt. Nee dierum numerum, ut nos, sed noctium 
computant; sic constituunt, sic condicunt; nox ducere diem videtur.'* Later instances are 
given from law literature by Weinhold, Deutsche JahrUUungy notes 2, 3, ii, 12, and 
13 ; from documents by Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des detUschen MittelalierSy Hannover, 189 1, 
I., p. 131, and 1898, II., 202, under Nacht, 

^De Temporum Raiume, chap, v.: **Merito autem quaeritur, quare populus Israel, 
qui diei ordinem iuxta Moysi traditionem a mane semper usque ad mane servabat, festa 
tamen omnia sua, sicut et nos hodie iacimus, vespere indpiens, vespere consummarit 
dicente legislatore: A vespera usque ad vesperam celebrabitis sabbata vestra.*' 

'Manilius, Astronomicon^ ''per quinquaginta brumas"; and Martialis, ''ante brumas 
triginta." On the parallels between night and winter and between day and summer, see O. 
Schrader, DieaeltesteZeitteilungdesindogermanischen F<>/^«j, Berlin, Habel, 1878, pp. 12, 44SS. 

6 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



1 8 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

abounds with examples of that usage.^ Though it is generally the term 
winter which is used thus, it is by no means exclusively so, other terms, 
like loupAse in the Alemannic dialects, being enjoyed in die same sense.' 
Thus there can be no doubt that the Germanic year began with the begin- 
ning of wintex^ and not in the middle of it, as did the Roman year with 
its dogmatic and unpractical way of dividing time. But when exactly was 
the Germanic New Year? On an average, in Germany actual winter sets 
in about the middle of November, when it ceases to be possible to leave 
cattle, swine, sheep, and horses on the pasture grounds to seek their own 
food; when it begins to freeze; and when snowfalls become very frequent 
There is no doubt that for purely nomadic cattle-keeping tribes, such as at 
the dawn of history the Germanics certainly were, this is the term which 
compels them to change all their summer habits, and therefore marks the 
beginning of a new season in the most incisive way. It may, therefore, 
be regarded as certain that the Germanic winter did not begin later than 
at mid-November. But in order to determine whether it did not, perhaps, 
begin earlier, we need other means than mere economic speculation. We 
saw above that the Germanics in prehistoric times took over the Oriental 
year, which was divided into six three-score-day tides. Now the oldest such 
tide we know of among Germanics was the liuleis tide among the Goths 
of the sixth century.' It exactly covered the Roman months, November 
and December, November being called fruma liuleis. It is more than 
unlikely that the beginning of the year should have interfered with any 



^The Parker MS. of the Saxon Chronicle (ed. by Earle in " Two of the Saxon 
Chronicles Parallel^^ Oxford, 1865, p. 2) begins : "thy geare the waes agan firam Cri$tes 
acennesse cccc. wintra and xciiii uuintra," and in the second paragraph gear and winter 
are used as synonyms (*'and he hsefde thset rice xvi. gear . . . and heold xvii. winter . . . 
heold vii. gear . . . ricsode xvii. gear . . . riscode xxxL wintra . . . heold xxxL wintra," 
JbicL^ p. 2). The oldest part of the version belongs to the second half of the ninth 
century (R. Wlilker, Grundriss sur Geschichte der angelsachsischon LUeratur^ Leipzig, 
1885, § 509). 

'Weinhold, Deutsche Jahrieilung^ pp. 12 and 19; just as the Bavarians counted after 
autumns (Lex Baiuvariorum^ VIII., 19, 4 ; Weinhold, Jbid.), 

'The periods of three scores of days I call tides, the unities of two tides I call 
Germanic seasons^ and the unities of three tides I caU half -years. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE BEGINNING OF THE ANGLOGERMAN YEAR 



19 



such three-score-day tide; therefore the conclusion will be allowed that it 
rather began with the beginning of one. Thus we should have to assume 
either November i or September i to have been the beginning of the 
Germanic year. But September bearing in Germany entirely the character 
of a summer month, — nay, towards the end of August, the heat frequently 
being the greatest in the whole course of the year, — the beginning of 
the Germanic year at the beginning of September is practically out of 
the question, so that only November i remains as a possible beginning. 
Among the Goths of the sixth century fruma liuleis and November were 
apparently absolutely identical, as appears from St Andrew's day — which 
is marked down in that calendar as Fruma liuleis 31 — and from some 
other saints' days. All we are allowed to conclude from the fact, how- 
ever, is that the Goths of the sixth century had taken over the Roman 
calendar, naming the Roman months by the home-made names of those 
Germanic tides which approximately covered them. It by no means follows 
from this fact that each of the Germanic pre-Roman three-score-day tides 
exactly covered two Roman months. It would be an astovmding incident 
indeed if that had been the case, and only an extremely rare chance could 
account for it Knowing that the Indian months began shortly after the 
middle of the Roman months,^ we have every reason to assume something 
similar for the Germanic three-score-day tides. This assumption is sup- 
ported by a great number of singular facts. Had each of the six ancient 
Germanic tides not exactly, but fairly covered two subsequent Roman 
months, we should have to expect that the same would be the case with 
the German month-names which sprung up for the denomination of the 
Roman months. But the contrary is the case. To quote a witness be- 
yond suspicion, I cite Professor Weinhold,^ who says : " We find a wavering 
of the names between several months : ackermonat wavers between March 
and April ; hartmonat between November, December, and January ; iasemdni 
means December and January; homung means January and February; 
hundemdn is found to be applied to June, July, and August ; rosenmdnt to 



^ Grimm, GeschUhU der deutschen Sprache, 1848, I., p. 75. 
^ Di^ deutschen Monatnamen^ Halle, 1869, p. 2. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



20 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

June and July; sdtmdnt to September and October; slachtmdn to October, 
November, and December; and sommermonat to June and July : the names 
containing the constituent vol (ful) occur for September, November, Decem- 
ber, January, and February, and wolfmanat appears denoting November, 
December, and January " — a list which could easily be increased. It is now 
generally admitted that the Germanic month-names are a very late product, and 
that they were merely formed for the purpose of replacing the Latin names. 
If, then, the ancient Germanic three-score-day tides extended from about the 
middle of one Roman month to the middle of the second next, it was 
bound to happen that, at the time when the Roman month-names were 
taken over, they were applied to the mterval between the middles of two 
consecutive Roman months, which means neither more nor less than that 
each month-name could be used for two months; so during the period 
of transition it could scarcely be avoided that e,g. the term November was 
at some places used for the time from October 15 to November 15; whilst on 
others it was, with equal right, made to cover the time from November 15 to 
December 1 5. When, later, the Latin name was replaced by a German word, 
the characteristic held good. In consequence it could not fail to happen, 
even in neighbouring places, that, of two consecutive Roman months, some- 
times the first and sometimes the second was called by the one Latin name. 
Finding, as we do, that the Goths called liukis the time from November i to 
December 31, and the Anglo-Saxons called Gcola the time from December i 
to January 31, we can scarcely help assuming that liukis originally covered a 
period from about November 15 to January 15, and that, at the taking over 
of the Roman calendar, among the Goths that name was shifted a fortnight 
back, and among the Anglo-Saxons a fortnight forward, so as to create an 
incongruence of a whole Roman month. This argument must needs lead us 
to the conclusion that the Germanic liulds tide extended originally firom 
about mid-November to mid-January ; for had it extended from mid-October 
to mid-December, we should have to expect a wavering of the Yule tide 
between October-November and November-December, and not between 
November-December and December- January. All this points to the con- 
clusion that a Germanic thrce-score-day tide began originally about the 
middle of November, and that the beginning of it was at the same time 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE BEGINNING OF THE ANGLO-GERMAN YEAR 21 

the beginning of the Germanic year. This result is supported by the Rhenish 
Urbary of the fourteenth century from the Monastery of St. Victor, Xanten,i 
in which the terms of the six three-score-day tides are July 12, Sept. 17, 
Nov. II, Jan. 13, March 17, and May 12, Martinmas being marked out as a 
term as close to the middle of November as possibly can be expected. 

The idea of the Germanic year beginning about Martinmas is not new. 
Fin Magnusen^ remarked, about a century ago, that the Germanics began 
their year about the Advent tide, which for a long time began with the 
Sunday after Martinmas. Even Weinhold admits that Martinmas coincides 
with the actual beginning ot winter,* in which character it is clearly 
marked by the popular rimes : 

"Sanct Martin 
Feuer im Kamin"* 
and 

"Sanct Marten Miss 
Is der Winter wiss";* 

whilst, on the other hand, he maintains that the Germans began their year 
about the same time as the Romans began a new quarter of the year, />., 
on September 29, St. Michael's Day. It is true he does not even attempt 
to prove that assertion historically, but with a few vague remarks, which 
can scarcely be taken seriously, jumps over the whole point which ought 
to have been the centre of his investigation. It never occurs to him that 
the Goths regarded November and December as their liulHs tide, and that, 
if their year was not begtm at the ist of November, it was bound to 
commence on the beginning of September, when another three-score-day 
tide took its inception. Only a man who has never in his life left his 
study for fresh air can maintain that winter began at the close of 

1 Staatsarchiv, Diisseldorf, under " Stift Xanten," R, No. 8'\ leaf 8*. 

^Specimen Calendarii gentilis^ p. 1018, according to Pfannenschmid, Germanische 
Emtefeste^ p. 512 : " Suspicor vulgarem inter veteres Germanos anni adventum posterius 
inter christianos certo modo mutatum fuisse in adventum domini sive initium anni ecclesi- 
astici." 

* Uber die detUsche Jahrteilungy Kiel, 1862, p. 5. 

^Graesse, Des deutscken Landmanns Practical Dresden, 1858, p. 178. 

»ZWi/., p. 178. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



2 a YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

September I^ Did Professor Weinhold realize that spring began then at 
the end of January, when Germany as a rule is ice-bound for another 
month and a half— two to three months before cattle are able to pasture 
on the meadows? He had not even the courage to follow out the conse- 
quences ; but makes spring begin " in March/' and summer at tjie summer 
solstice ! To do him no injustice in any respect, I shall assume that the 
phrase " in March " (which implies thirty-one days to select from) is meant 
to mean the middle of March. Then we have a winter extending from the 
end of September to the middle of March; a spring extending from the 
middle of March to June 24; and a summer extending from June 24 to 
the end of September (which seems to mean September 29), Le,, a winter 
of more than five months and a half ! a spring of three months and nine 
days I and a summer of three months and five days ! — a calculation which 
certainly does all honour to the arithmetical attainments of our Germanic 
ancestors and their distinct sense of the equality of three thirds 1 Would 
one take the phrase "in March" as "in the end of March," the time 
when storks and swallows return in flocks and the grass begins to grow 
green again, we should have a winter of full six months, a spring of not 
quite three months, and a summer of a little more than three months. 

But perhaps one must not draw the consequences fi-om these ill-considered 
assumptions. The truth is, that a beginning of the Germanic winter about 
the end of September is absolutely imtenable, that it really took place 
about the middle of November, while the end of September did not 
become of importance as a dividing-point of the year until the introduc- 
tion of the Roman quartering of the year, under the reign of which a new 
quarter began on October i, and was fixed by the Church on September 29, 
/.^., on Michaelmas. 

Having, at last, arrived at the starting-point, it will be necessary to 
cast a glance over the whole of the Germanic year, and to draw once and 
for all the theoretical conclusions firom that result Counting by original 
Germanic half-years, summers and winters^ we have to fix the other 
junction-point of the two at mid-May, a term dear to all who have the 

^Gniesse, Des dmtschen Landmanns Practica^ Dresden, 1858, p. 718. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE BEGINNING OF THE ANGLO-GERMAN YEAR 



23 



happiness of receiving house rents in Scotland. Counting with Oriental- 
made thirds of years, or Germanic seasons, we have to dose the winter 
and b^in the early summer at mid-March, and to close the early summer 
and begin the late summer at mid- July. If this really be the old Germanic 
division of the year, it is bound to be preserv^ in all kinds of recollections 
and institutions : above all, in legal institutions, in popular tradition, in folk- 
belief and rustic custom, in festivals and bonfires, and, last but not least, in 
ecclesiastical habits which, as far as they were created after the fifth centuiy 
of our era, reflect an enormous amount of Germanic tradition and thought 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER III. 

THE FEAST OF MARTINMAS. 

The term at which Roman legions in Gaul and Germany withdrew into 
winter quarters varied a little, although not considerably. As a rule it 
seems to have been before the middle of October, when the rainy season 
begins in those countries. It was the frequent rain which prevented any 
continuation of warfare, not the cold. No Roman general seems to have 
been bold enough to try to extend warlike operations till frost set in. 
When Caesar, for once, tried to keep his legions engaged in war beyond 
the usual term, he was compelled to retreat, as his soldiers could no 
longer sleep in the open field because of the rain.^ On the other hand, 
he did not like to retire into winter quarters too early; and when he had 
to do so, because no more work was to be done, he expressly mentioned 
it^ Now, A.D. 14, Germanicus was fighting some German tribes. The 
autumn came, and he withdrew into winter quarters. The winter was 
imminent, but had not yet set in.' The fifth and twenty-first legions were 
in winter quarters at the sixtieth stone, which place was called Castra 

^Caesar, Bellum Galiicum, Lib. III., chap, xxix.: *' Incredibili celeritate magno spatio 
paucis diebus confecto, cum iam pecus atque extrema impedimenta ab nostris tenerentur, 
ipsi densiores silvas peterent, eiusmodi sunt tempestates consecutae, uti opus necessario 
intennitteretur et continuatione imbrium diutius sub pelUbus milites contineri non possent." 

^Bellum GtUlicum^ Lib. I., chap. liv. : <* Caesar, una aestate duobus maximis bellis 
confectis, maturius paullo, quam tempus anni postulabat, in biberna in Sequanos exerdtum 
deduxit." 

'Tacitus, AnnaUs^ Lib. L, chap. xliv. : '*Ob imminentem . . . hiemem." 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE FEAST OF MARTINMAS 



25 



Vetera,! when they mutinied. In grder to turn their minds to something 
else, Germanicus undertook — ^autumn being far advanced, but apparently 
no snow having fallen yet and there being no frost — another small military 
expedition. He crossed the frontier, and invaded the enemy's territory. 
There were two ways to take. He chose the longer one, and hurried on; 
for scouts had informed him that a certain night was a festival night for 
the Germans, and gave occasion for gay banqueting. In a beautiful clear 
night he reached the village of the Marsiy and surprised them completely 
during their feasting,^ This can only refer to a festival held at the begin- 
ning of winter, before snow and frost had set in, which, in the German 
climate, can hardly have been at any other time than in the first half 
of November. In the second half Germanicus would have had to encounter 
the most serious difficulties as to the weather, whilst to assume that the 
festival had been in October would not leave sufficient time for the with- 
drawing of the legions into winter quarters, the mutiny, and the warlike 
expedition after it So we have a right to say that a German festival was 
held in the first half of November as far back as a.d. 14, while the date 
of the report of it is certainly to be set down before a.d. 117, in which 
year Tacitus died. It is the oldest Germanic festival on historical record ; 
and although half a millenium elapsed before it was mentioned again, 
we have no reason to doubt its existence. And it is mentioned again 
before the Christian Church had got proper hold of all the Western 
Germanic tribes, towards the end of the sixth century, when St. Martin 
had become a great saint of the Church, and November 11, the date of 
his death, had been made his day of commemoration. 



• ^ Tacitus, Annales^ Lib. L, chap, xlv.: "Quintae et unaetvicesimae legionum sexagesimum 
apud lapidem (loco Vetera nomen est) hibernantium." 

^ Ibid,i chap. 1. : "Delecta longiore via cetera acceleiantur : etenim attulerant explora- 
tores festam earn Germanis noctem ac solemnibus epulb ludicram. Caecina cum expeditis 
cohortibus praeire et obstantia silvarum amoliri iubetur : legiones modico intervallo 
sequuntur. luvit nox sideribus illustris, ventumque ad vicos Marsorum, et circumdatae 
stationes, stratis etiam turn per cubilia propterque mensas, nullo metu, non antepositis 
vigiliis. Adeo cuncta incuria disiecta erant, neque belli timor; ac ne pax quidem nisi 
languida et soluta inter temulentos,'* etc. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



26 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

St Martin was bora in a.d. 336, and died in 401. About the middle 
of the sixth century there was definitely given as his own day November ii, 
which had before been celebrated in Gaul in his commemoration. Whilst 
France knows nothing of a popular celebration of it, Martinmas' in early 
times was held as the highest festival of the year wherever Western 
Germanics lived, the banqueting lasting, in the sixth century, all night long 
till moraing broke. We know this from the terms in which the Synod of 
Auxerre in 578 forbade its celebration.' Beda, in De Temporum Ratione^ 
testifies to a Germanic festival in November, saying that in that month, 
which they called Blot-monath or Offenng-month, the heathen Germanics 
devoted to their gods their cattle, which they intended to kilL^ Martinmas, 
probably, was in chief view when in 589 the Council of Toledo interdicted 
the same nightly feasting for all saints' days,^ and the Concilium Cabilonense 
of 650 A.D. repeated the prohibition.^ 

^A very brilliant sketch of his life and activity is given by Heino Pfknnenschmid, 
Germanische Emtefeste^ Hannover, 1878, pp. 193 ss., with numerous notes, pp. 464 ss. 

' P&nnenschmid, Ibid,, ^, 466, note 10. 

'*'Omnino et inter supradictas conditiones, pervigilias, quas in honore domni Martini 
observant, omnimodo prohibete," Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 1 7 14, Vol. III., col. 444, 
Synodus Autissiodorensis, A.D. 578, v. The supradictae conditiones can only be the contents 
of Canons iiL and iv., which run as follows: *'iii. Non licet compensos in domibus 
propriis, nee pervigilias in festivitatibus sanctorum &cere ; nee inter sentes, aut ad arbores 
sacrivos, vel ad fontes vota exsolvere : sed quicumque votum habuerit, in ecclesia vigilet, 
et matriculae ipsum votum, aut pauperibus reddat : nee sculptilia aut pede, aut homine lineo 
fieri penitus praesumat. iv. Non licet ad sortilegos, vel ad auguria respicere, non ad 
caragios, nee ad sortes, quas sanctorum vocant, vel quas de ligno, aut de pane fieununt, 
aspicere: sed quaecumque homo fiurere vult; omnia in nomine Domini &ciat." It is 
important to notice that the only two feasts which are mentioned by their name by that 
Synod of Auxerre are the Calends of January and Martinmas, and from that the conclusion 
may be drawn that the heathen customs were more prominent at these two tides than at 
any other. 

*De Temporum Rationed chap, xv., De Mensihus Anglorumx ^* Blotmanotky mensis 
immolationum, quia in ea pecora quae occisuri erant, Diis suis vovebant" 

^ Acta ConcUiorum^ Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. til., col. 483, Concilium Toletanum^ III., A.D. 
589, xxiii. : '* Exterminanda omnino est irreligiosa consuetudo, quam vulgus per sanctorum 
solemnitates agere consuevit; ut populi, qui debent officia divina attendere, saltationibus 
et turpibus invigilent canticb." 

^Acta ConeiUorum, Parisiis, 1714, VoL III., col. 950, Concilium Cabilonense^ A.D. 650, xix.: 
*< Malta quidem eveniunt, quae dum levia minime corriguntur, saepius majora consoigunt. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE FEAST OF MARTINMAS 27 

The veneration of St. Martin spread very rapidly in the old Church. 
After God, the holy cross, and the Virgin Mary, the blessed confessors 
Hilarius and Martinus were held in the highest reputation in the Gaul 
of the sixth century,^ and in Great Britain things were not much different,' 

Valde enim omnibus noscitur esse indecorum, quod per dedicationes basilicarum, aut 
fiestivitates martynun, ad ipsa solemnia confluentes chorus femineus turpia quidem et obscena 
cantica decantare videntur, dum aut orare debent, aut clericos psallentes audire. Unde 
convenit, ut sacerdotes lod talia a septis basilicarum, vel porticibus ipsarum, ac etiam ab 
ipsius atriis vetare debeant et arcere. Et si voluntarie noluerint emendare, aut excom- 
municari debeant, aut disdplinae aculeum sustinere." It was then the habit to sing in 
these days worldly love songs in the church, to dance in accompaniment ot them, and to 
banquet in the same sacred place. " Non licet in ecclesia choros secularium, vel puellarum 
cantica exercere, nee convivia in ecclesia praeparare : quia scriptum est : Domus mea^ domus 
croHonis vocabUur^ Acta ConcUiorum^ Parisiis, 1 7 14, VoL III., coL 445, Synodus 
AuHssiodarensis^ A.D. 578, ix. Acta Coficitiorum, Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 1920- 1, 
Concilium Germanicum, A.D. 742, v. : " Decrevimus quoque, ut secundum canones 
unosquisque episcopus in sua parochia solicitudinem gerat, adjuvante gravione, qui defensor 
ecdesiae ejus est, ut populus Dei paganias non &ciat, sed omnes spurdtias abjidat et respuat ; 
sive profana sacrifida mortuorum, sive sortilegos, vel divinos, sive phylacteria et auguria, 
sive incantationes, sive hostias immolatitias, quas stulti homines juxta ecclesias ritu pagano 
6idunt, sub nomine sanctorum martyrum vel confessorum, Deum et sanctos suos ad ira- 
cundiam provocantes: sive illos sacrilegos ignes, quos Niedfyr vocant; sive omnes, quae- 
cumque sunt, paganorum observationes diligenter prohibeant." 

^Acta Conciiiorumt Parisiis, 1 7 14, Vol. III., Epistola Sanctae Radegundis ad Episcopos^ 
A.D. 567, col. 370 : " Dd et sanctae cruds, et beatae Mariae incurrat judidum : et beatos 
confessores Hilarium et Martinum, quibus post Deum sorores meas tradidi defendendas, 
ipsos habeat contradictores et persecutores." The Concilium Turoneme^ Ibid,, col. 371-72, 
replied to this letter mentioning Martin in almost equal terms, saying oi God : '* Beatum 
Martinum peregrina de stirpe ad inluminationem patriae dignatus est dirigere misericordia 
consulente. Qui licet apostolorum tempore non fiierit, tamen apostolicam gratiam non 
efliigit. Nam quod defuit in ordine, suppletum est in mercede," etc. 

'When the Roman missionaries under Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory to Great 
Britain, settled down in Canterbury, they found there a St. Martin's Church, as Bede 
states, of Roman origin — a church which, after some medieval reconstructions, still exists, 
and is not the least interesting of the antiquities of Canterbury. Beda, Historia Eccle- 
sicutica gentis Anglorum, I., chap xxvi., ed.' Plummer, Oxford 1896, p. 47: **Erat 
autem prope ipsam civitatem ad orientem ecclesia in honorem sancti Martini antiquitus 
facta, dum adhuc Romani Brittanniam incolerent, in qua regina, quam Christianam fuisse 
piaediximus, orare consuerat." (Her name was Bercta, and she was a Frankish princess.) 
St. Martin, besides, had at Canterbury a porticus, in which King Aedilberct was buried 
(Beda, Hist, Eccl, II., chap. v. : ** Defunctus vero est rex Aedilberct die XXiiii. mensis 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



28 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

\ whilst in Germany the cult of the same saint spread simultaneously with 
Christianity.^ The popularity of St. Martin was bound to increase from 
the fact that his day was placed at the greatest ancient Germanic festive 
tide; and however scarce is our information about medieval popular festivals, 
we know of no other so much as we do about Martinmas as a time of 
feasting and banqueting. If Martin is called the drunken saint, there is 
no doubt about the significance of that expression, nor is there any about 
the so-called Martin-geese. The oldest St. Martin's goose of which we 
know is a silver one, and belongs to the year 1171, although the testimony 
by which it is warranted is not contemporaneous. A monk of Corvei, 

Februarii post xx. et unum annos acceptae fidei, atque in porticu sancti Martini intro 
ecclesiam beatorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli sepultus ubi et Bercta(e) regina condita 
est") St Ninian had a bishop seat, which was later on celebrated through the name and 
the church of St. Martin (Beda, //ist. EccL, III., chap. iv. : "Cuius sedem episcopatus, 
sancti Martini episcopi nomine et ecclesia insignem . . . iam nunc Anglorum gens obtinet '*). 
Ninian probably died earlier than St Martin {Lives of St. Ninian and St. Kentigem^ ed. 
Forbes, 1874, xxvii., xxxviii., 256, 266, 271-273). There was also a monastery called 
after that saint (Beda, Hist. Eccl.^ IV., xvi. : **Et abbas monasterii beati Martini, ..." 
and "corpusque eius ab amicis propter amorem St. Martini, cuius monasterio praeerat, 
Turonis delatum atque honorifice sepultum est"; and Beda, Historia Abbatum^ § 6, ed. 
Plummer, p. 369 : '* Ab Agathone papa archicantore ecclesiae beati apostoli Petri et abbate 
monasterii beati Martini Johanne . . ." and Historia Abbatum auctore Anonymc, 
ed. Plummer, in Vemrabilis BaecUu Opera Historical Oxford 1296, Vol. I., p. 391, § 10: 
"Abbatemque monasterii beati Martyni"). Mr. Plummer, in his edition of Bede*s His- 
torical Writings (Vol. II., p. 43) says: "To the popularity of the cultus of St Martin 
(who died between 397 and 401 ) in Britain, Venantius Fprtunatus (bom about 530 at Ceneta 
and having died as bishop of Poitiers after 600) bears striking testimony, saying of him : 
"Quem Hispanus, Maurus, Persa, Britannus amat." Cf. Haddan and Stubbs, Councils 
and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland^ I., 13, where see note 
for references illustrating the connection of St. Martin with the British Isles ; Venantius 
Fortunatus, Vita S, Martini^ Lib. IV., w. 621 ss. {Monumenta Historica Germaniae^ 
4to series). 

^ Boni&ce also speaks of " ftindamenta cuiusdam destructae a paganis ecclesiolae, 
quam Willibrordus ... in castello Traiecto repperit, et eam proprio labore a ftmda- 
mento construxit et in honore S. Martini consecravit {Monumenta Moguntina^ pp. 259- 
260, ed. Ja<f<6). Ducange, Glossarium^ under Festum S. Martini: " Recensetur inter festa 
quae celebrari debent, in Lib. VI. Capitul.^ c. 189; in Capitulari Aguisgran., A.D. 817, 
c. 46; in Capitulis Walterii Aureliani^ c. 18; in ConciHo Lugdunensi sub Inn. ///., etc.; 
in Capitulari Ahytonis Episcopi^ Basiliensis, c. viii. ; Beletus, c 163." 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE FEAST OF MARTINMAS 



29 



who, in the middle of the fifteenth century, compiled the Annals of that 
monastery,^ tells that in 1171 Othelricus of Svalenburg, on the feast of 
St Martin, because he was a member of the fraternity of Corvei, gave 
the monks as a present a silver goose. This gift was probably in com- 
pensation for a payment of some annual duty on Martinmas.^ 

In the thirteenth century there was a song on St Martin known through 
large parts of Gaul and Germany, which, like almost all songs in use at 
Germanic offering tides, was repudiated by the clergy as indecent. It was 
then ascribed to some evil spirit, and a story was popular according to 
which, in 1316, a demon had boasted that he and a friend of his composed 
that song, and promulgated it over a large territory.^ Public bonfires on 
Martinmas can be proved to have existed as early as 1448, when Martinmas 
for that reason was called Funkentag\^ and are again mentioned about the end 
of the sixteenth century in Fischart's ( + 1590) Gargantuan where baskets 
are stated to have been burnt in the St. Martin's fire. Perhaps it has also to 
do with St Martin's fires that, when in 1557, at Augsburg, a house was burnt 

* Leibnitz, Scriptores^ II., 308 ; Pfannenschmid, Germanische Emtefeste^ p. 229. 

^ Annales Corbejenses in Leibnitz's Scriptores^ XL, 308: "Othelriais de Svalenberg 
aigenteum anserem in festo S. Martini pro fraternitate (obtulit).'* Pfannenschmid, Gemianische 
Emiefesie^ 1878, p. 505. Old Leibnitz, ScriptoreSy II., Introduction p. 28 : " Anserem assatum 
in festo S. Martini per omnes fere domos, mensis inferunt Germani. . . . Invitat anni 
tempus : tum enim anseres pingues habentur." Pfannenschmid, Ibid,^ p. 505, beats aTl 
speculators about the connection between St. Martin and geese, by the simple declaration 
that St Martin's day is just the time of the year when geese are fat. This was of even 
greater moment in foiiner centuries, when the accumulation of food was attended with 
considerable difficulties, and domestic animals were difficult to feed during winter time. 
Compare also D. Georg Joachim Marks, Geschichie vom Martini- Abend und Martins- Mann^ 
Hamburg und GUstrow, 1772, p. 20. 

^The story is told by Thomas Cantipratensis, who in 1263 wrote his book on the 
bee state. It is contained in his treatise Bonum universale de apihusx **Quod autem 
obscoena carmina finguntur a daemonibus et perditorum mentibus immittuntur, quidam 
daemon nequissimus, qui in Nivella urbe Brabantiae puellam nobilem anno domini 12 16 
prosequebatur, manifeste populis audientibus dixit : cantum hunc celebrem de Martino ego 
cum coUega meo composui et per diversas terras Galliae et Theutoniae promulgavi. Erat 
autem cantus ille turpissimus et plenus luxuriosis plausibus." 

* In a document of Count Friedrich zu Moers (A. J. Wallraf, Altdtutsches Worterbuchy 
Koln, p. 23). Comp. Grotefend, Zeitrechnung^ I., p. 71, 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



30 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

down, a report expressly remarks that the young fellows when feasting and 
holding Martinmas had neglected it^ 

According to a seventeenth century source,^ in Holland the boys, on 
the eve of Martinmas, lit fires, singing: 

•* Stoockt vyer^ mackt vyeri 
Sinit Marten komt hier 
Met syne bloote armen ; 
Ify sonde hem geeme warmen,^'' 

About 1230 an Austrian poet represents peasants drinking to the praise and 
memory of St Martin.^ A joke connected with the Martinmas of the thirteenth 

1 century is preserved to us in the poem St Martinsnacht.^ A rich farmer and 

I his people have got drunk in honour of St Martin. A thief breaks into 

the farmer's stable, and, when surprised by the owner, shakes off his clothes, 

pretending to be St Martin. The farmer, believing him, goes on with his 

banquet, with the result that in the morning he finds his stable empty. That 

. the festivity was equally familiar to monasteries is apparent firom some 
documents. The monastery of Eilenrostorf received every year, fi-om 1353, 
a quantity of wine — ^half for the mass and half for the convent who were to 
drink it in vigilia sancH Martini^ What it received before that date is 

' not known. 

A.D. 1369 we have a description of a celebration of Martinmas. A 
knight, von Schwichelt, possessor of Liebenburg, asked Duke Otto of 
Gottingen to spend Martinmas with him. Duke Otto had gone to Harzburg, 
which he had taken from the Count of Wernigerode, at the same time 
compelling, by surprise of the town of Alfeld, the Bishop of Hildesheim 

'Birlinger, Aus Schwaben, II., p. 132. This happened on October 10. Nevertheless 
that feasting was called Martinsnacht^ apparently because in olden times it had been held 
on November 11. 

^Gisbertus Voetius, SeUctae Disputationes Theologicae^ Utrecht, 1659, p. 448. 

»Der Strieker, Kleine GedUhie, V., 167, Grimm's Warterbuch^ IV. i, 1263: "Dem guotcn 
sant Marttne ze lobe und zu minnen.'* 

* Hagen, Gesammtabenteuer, Stuttgart und Tubingen, 1850, No. 50. 

^Reimann, Deutsche Volksfeste, 284; Pfannenschmid, Germanische Emtefeste^ p. 222; 
Marks, Geschichievom Martini- Abend und Afartinsmann^ Hamburg, 1772, p. 20. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE FEAST OF MARTINMAS 



3» 



to provide the castle of Harzburg with food. On Martinmas eve he arrived 
with hb army before Liebenburg, and was invited for St Martin's banquet. 
He accepted the invitation, and on the following day presented his host 
with the castle of Harzburg.^ Oswald von Wolkenstein (1367-1445) sings: 
TVinckh tnarUin wein^ und genss iss Ott^ and bones of Martin's geese 
were used for prophecy about the middle of the fifteenth century.' Sebastian 
Franck (1500-1545) says in his Weltbuch of the Francs : " Firstly they praise 
St. Martin with good wine and geese, until they are drunk. Unblessed is 
the house which has not a goose to eat that night; then they also tap 
their new wines which they have kept so far,** to which he adds a description 
of a St Martin's game : " In Franconia at that day people enclosed in a 
circuit or circle two boars, which tore each other to pieces. The meat was 
divided among the people, the best bits being given to the authorities."* 

'^Bodonis Chronicon pict, in Leibnitz's Scriptores Br., III., 385, H. Pfannenschmid, 
Germanische Emtefeste, p. 500; and Uralte Sachsen Chronic by Caspar Abel, written 
about 1455 (^^ annum 1375). Pfannenschmid, Ibid, : '* Hertog Otto de bose to Gotting 
halde eyn grot hop des Quecks uth Holt-Lande van der Wulfesborch, unde wolde darmidde 
driven in dat Lant to Gotting, so I^erde he sick under der Levenborch, unde was St 
Martens- Avend, dar sp3rsen se one myt alle sinen Volke, unde deni Quecke, des Morgens 
wolde he de Koste betalen, des wolden de van Schwichgelde nyn Gelt vore hebben, unde 
^eden sine Gnaden darmidde, do dreyff he sin Roffqueck in dat Lant to Gotting, unde 
spisede dar sine Boighe midde, unde gaff do denen Schwichgelde vor de Woldad de 
Hartesborch to erve unde to egen, de worden so dema der Borch Goddes Frttnt, unde 
aller werlde vyent.** 

*CW?= November 13. 

'Dr. Hartlieb, physician-in-ordinary to Duke Albrecht Oi Bavaria, in his Buck oiler 
verboien kttnst, ungelaubens tmd der nauberei (1455) says: '*Als man zu sant Martinstag 
Oder nacht die gans geessen hat, so behalten die eltesten und die weisen das prustpain, und 
lassen das trucken werden bb morgens fru und schawen dan das nach alien umbstenden, 
vom hinden und in der mitt Damach so urtailen si dan den winter wie er sol werden kalt 
warm trucken oder nass, und sind so vest des gelauben, das si darauf verwetten ir gut und 
hab." A hundred and fifty years later that habit was still in use, as we know firom J. 
Colerus, Calendarium Oecommicum (1591), and firom Olorinus Variscus and his writing 
on St Martin's geese. 

^''Nach dem kompt S. Martin, da jsset ein jeder Haussvater mit seinem Haussgesinde 
eine Ganss, vermag ers, kaufft er jnen Wein vnd Medt, vnd loben S. Martin mit voll sejm, 
essen, trincken, singen" ; Heinrich Panthaleon, of B&le (1522- 1 595), writes in Der deutschen 
Nation Heldenbuck \ *' Die Leute pfl^en zum Gedachtniss S. Martini in Deutschland mit 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



32 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

/ A writer of the same century says; "We Germans think Shrove Tuesday, 
j St. Burkhard, and St. Martin, Pentecost, and Pasch, the times when people 
, should be gay and banquet more than at other seasons of the year : on St. 

Burkhard's eve for the sake of the new must ; on Martinmas perhaps for 
j the sake of the new wine; then people roast fat geese, all the world 

rejoicing." ^ 

Sermons of the seventeenth century, even when coming from Protestant 

pulpits, have many things to tell about Martinmas and its geese.^ The 
I popular rime says: 

" Auflf Martini schlacht man feiste Schwein, 
Und wird allda der Most zu Wein."' 

On the eve of Martinmas the devil had free play. On that night, in the 



frohlichem GemUth St. Martensnacht zu begehen, die Martensganss zu essen, und mit den 
Nachbaren und dem Hausgesinde frohlich zu sein, gleich als wenn aller Dinge Ueberfluss 
mit Sanct Martino der Armen Patron vorhanden sey;" Jod. Lorichius, Aberglauben^ 1593, 
p. 52. Simrock, Martimlieder^ xiv. ; Pfennenschmid, Germanische Emtefeste^ pp. 500-1, 
where other proofs for similar festivities are given from Thomas Naogeorgus (Thomas 
Kirchmaier of Straubingen, 151 1- 1563), Regnum Papisticum, Lib. IV. ; Joannes Boemus 
Aubanus, De Omnium Gentium Ritibus^ 1520, fol. Ix. ; G. Forster, Frischt Liedlein^ II 
Parts, NUmberg, 1540, No. 5, and many items of later dates. 

^Scheible, Schaltjahr^ II., 95, from Agricola. 

'Scheible, SchcUtjahr^ I., 187, Aus einer protestantischen Martinspredigt des 17. 
yiakrAunderts : " Und weil heute der Tag Martini gefallet, daran es die Ganse leider 
ttbel haben, als will ich zu einer Martinsgans bitten, und dieselbe anatomieren und 
zutheilen. Nicht aber me die Aberglaubischen, nach jetzt erzahltem heidnischem Gebrauch, 
von kUnftiger Winterwitterung aus dem Brustbein weissagen, sondem was wir bei einer 
Gans christlich zu lemen haben, anzeigen. Kichtet ihr hierauf eure beharrliche Andacht. 
— Es isset Mancher eine Gans nach der andem, und ist und bleibet selbst eine Gans, versteht 
und weiss nicht, was Gott und die Natur uns an derselben zu studiren gegeben." /bid,, 
I., p. 194: "Ganse geben Speis, sonderlich um diese Martinszeit. Drum ihnen auch 
der Martinstag sehr gefahrlich ist . . . Verstandige Koche wissen sie mit gutem Beifusz, 
Aepfeln und Kastanien zu fUUen und zu einem lieblichen Schmack zu geben." On 
Martinmas gaieties a mass of material is contained in Mussard, Ceremoniae Ecdesiasticae, 
p. 117; Blumberg, Delineatio fratemitatum CaUndarum, p. 155; Calvor, Ritual Eccl,, 
P. II., p. 362; Keisler, AntiquUates Septenirionales \ Pimische Chronick in Mencken, II., 
p. 1554 ; Marks, Gtschichte vom Martim- Abend und Martinsmann, Hambuig, 1772. 

'Grasse, Des deutschen Landmanns Practica, Dresden, 1858, p. 27. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE FEAST OF MARTINMAS 33 

shape of a man dressed in a long wolf-skin coat, he appeared in 1594 at 
Spandau, Brandenburg, to a young fellow, and raged about in an indescrib- 
able fashion, so that all the persons possessed had to be brought to the 
high altar of the church for protection.^ 

In the seventeenth century the police began to become an important 
factor in the development, or rather suppression, of popular usages. So 
on February 4, 1605, and June 22, 1649, in old Frankfurt-on-the-Main, 
it was forbidden to bake Mertins homichen for sale. The same happened 
to the other Martin's festivities at many places.* Yet some lived on for a 
considerable time as quasi legal institutions, e.g,^ in the Rhine country, 
where such festivities existed till after 1750,^ being given as a gift in return 
for the duties paid at that term. 

^Scheible, SchaUjahr^ IV., 462, SckreckUche Zeitung, 

' **Die ttbel practicirten Martins- oder Herbsttriinke " (" WUrzburger Herbstinstruction " 
in Wemdii Tractcttus vom ZehnirechU^ p. 324 (ed. de anno 1708); Pfannenschmid, Cer- 
manische Emtrfeste, p. 224; comp. also Schiller's Glossar., p. 123. 

•At Oberaussero, in 1750, at the banqueting (Hofessm) on Sunday after Martinmas, 
the persons who took part were sixty-one. They dined at two tables, at a tisch auffm 
soller and a sptcktisch im haus (Armin TiUe, Archivubersicht^ p. 102). 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER IV. 



MARTINMAS, AND THE TRI-PARTITION OF THE YEAR. 

Martinmas is the earliest term occurring in the Anglo-Saxon Laws. 
Church-scot had to be paid then, so early as the seventh century,^ though 
the church to which it was to be paid was that of the place at which a man 
stayed in the beginning of the calendar year.^ He who failed to do so 
was to forfeit sixty shillings,' and render the church-scot twelve-fold.* 

^ Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and EccUsiastical Documents^ Oxford, 1871, III., 215, 
Laws of King Ine of PVessex, about A.D. 690 (688-693): "Be Ciric-sceattum. Ciric- 
sceattas sin agifene be Sancte Marlines msessan." 

^ Ibid., III., 217, Ixi. : ** Be ciric-sceatte. Ciric-sceat mon sceal agifan to tham healme 
and to tham heordhe the semon on bidh to middum wintra." 

'In Thorpe's Ancient Laws cmd Institutes of England (London), 1840, II., 460. In 
the canons enacted under King Edgar (ca. A.D. 967) it was enjoined that plough-alms 
were to be given xv. days after Easter ; and a tithe of young by Pentecost ; and of 
earth-fruits by All Saints; and Rome-**feoh" by St. Peter's mass; and church-scot by 
Martinmass ("serest sulh-oelmessan xv. niht onufan Estron. and ge6gudhe teodhunge be 
Pentecosten. and eordh-westma be Omnium Sanctorum, and Rom-fe6h be Petres-maessan. 
and ciric-sceat be Martinus-maessan "). This is the reading of MS. D, a small folio of the 
middle of the eleventh century, Corpus Christie 20I (v. 18) ; X, a large octavo MS. of 
the tenth century, Bodleana, Junius, 121, has Ealra Hdlgena massan instead of Omnium 
Sanctorum, and has the following sentence immediately preceding to the quoted Anglo- 
Saxon text : ' >and riht is that man thisses mynegige to Eastrum. odhre sidhe to gang-dagum. 
thriddan sidhe to middan-sumera. thonne bidh msest folces gegaderod ; " whilst it adds 
after the above sentence from D the following : " and leoht-gesceotu thriwa on geare. 
aerest on Easter-sefen. and odhre sidhe on candel-msesse aefen. thriddan sidhe on Ealra 
Halgena msesse sefen." Acta Conciliorum, Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. VI., i, col. 657-8, Leges 
Ecclesiasticae /^egis Edgari, ca. a.d. 967, iii. : "Quisque fetuum dedmas omnes ante 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MARTINMAS, AND THE TRI-PARTITION OF THE YEAR 35 

This term lived on a considerable time. It was, at any rate, preserved 
as late as the reign of Henry the First (1100-1135), ^^^ probably a good 
deal longer.^ It is like many other Germanic institutes also found in 



Pentecosten persolvito: terrae quidem fructuum decimas ante aequinoctium pendito: ipsas 
autem aeminum primitias sub festum divi Martini reddito." Ibid,^ col. 659, iii. : ** Et 
omnis decixnatio juventutis reddita sil ad Pentecosten, et terrae fhigum ad aequinoctium, 
et omne ciricsceattum ad festum sancti Martini, per plenam foris&cturam quam judicialis 
liber dicit." Ibid,^ col. 776 {^Concilium Amhamense, A.D. 1009) x. : "Jura Deo debita 
unusquisque annuatim recte pendito: aratri scilicet eleemosynam decimaquinta nocte a 
Pascbate : fetuum seu novellorum gpregura decimas, ad Pentecosten ; et terrae fructuum, ad 
festum omnium Sanctorum, xi. Census Romae debitus [quem denarium sancti Petri vocant] 
and festum sancti Petri ad vincula (alias Missam Petri) persolvatur : et ecclesiae census, 
qui cyrick sceat appellatur, ad Missam sancti Martini, xii. et. xiii. Luminarium 
census ter quotannis penditor". A mention of this institute occurs in Cnut's letter from 
Rome (Thorpe, Ancient Laws at$d Institutes of England {l^n^on) 1840, I., p. 104: **Et 
in festivitate Sancti Martini primitiae seminarum ad ecclesiam sub cujus parochia quisque 
degit, quae Anglice *ciric-sceatt* nominatur") {Ibid, in the notes). Also Heming, 21 : ** De 
cirisceato de Perscora dicit vicecomitatus, quod ilia ecclesia de Perscora debet habere 
ipsum cirisceattum de omnibus ccc. hidis, scilicet de unaquaque hida ubi francus homo 
manet unam summam annonse, et, si plures habet hidas, sint liberie, et si dies fractus 
liierit, in festivitate Sancti Martini ipse, qui retinuerit det ipsam summam, et undecies 
persolvat abbati de Perscora, et reddat forisfacturam abbati de Westminstre quia sua terra 
est" {Ibid.), Cnut's letter is also printed in the Ada Condtufrum,Fsixisiis, 1714, Vol. VI., 
I. col 846, Epistola Canuti Regis ad An^orum proceres, A.D. 103 1 : "Omnium debita, 
quae secundum legem antiquam debemus, sint persoluta: scilicet eleemosyna pro aratris, 
et dedmae animalium ipso anno procreatorum, et denarii, quos Romam ad sanctum 
Petrum debetis, sive ex urbibus, sive ex villis, et mediante Augusto decimae frugum, et 
in festivitate sancti Martini primitiae seminum, ad ecclesiam sub cujus parochia quisque degit, 
quae Anglice Curcset nominatur." Bye and bye E^ter creaps into the number of these 
terms (Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 17 14, VI., i, col. 899, Leges Ecclesiasticae Canuti Regis^ 
A.D. 1032), where the terms enumerated are: "a fortnight after Easter;" "Pentecost;" 
"All Saints," whilst, besides, Peter's penny is to be paid at Peter and Paul, and the 
firstlings of the seeds at Martinmas ; also three times a year the candle money has to be 
paid {Ibid., col. 899, xii.): "at Pasch," "at All Saints," and "at Mary's Purification"; 
Ibid., col. 908, xvL ; col. 909, xvii., xix; Thorpe's Ancient Laws, II., 524. 

^Thorpe, Ancient Laws, I., 520 {Leges Regis Henrici Primi, xi., § 4): "Qui cyric- 
sceattum tenebit ultra festum Sancti Martini, reddat eum episcopo, et undecies persolvat, 
et regi 1. solidos." This institute is commented upon by Lingard, Altertiimer der 
angelsdchsischen Kirche, ed. by von Ritter, Breslau, 1847, p. 56. Compare David Wilkins, 
Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hibemiae, London, 1734, I., pp. 59, 302; and Pfennen- 
schmid, Germanische Emtefeste, p. 204. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



36 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Spain, whither the Goths apparently had carried it/ and in Germany, where 
it obtained all through the Middle Ages. There the church tax falling* due 
at Martinmas was even called St. Martin's penny,^ when the pajonent of 
it had been shifted to Christmas, a change which seems to have taken place 
in the thirteenth or in the beginning of the fourteenth century. A similar 
shifting of terms is to be observed in England in the eleventh century.* 
Churchscot was not the only pajrment to be made at the beginning of 
winter. Then was also paid ah instalment of the wages of female servants, 
which were due three times a year, viz., at the beginning of winter, at 
mid-Lent, and at the beginning of later summer.^ 

In Germany Martinmas was legally recognised as a general term for paying 

^ Vita Satuti Isidori AgrkoUu^ MadrUi in Castelia ( + 1130), auctore lohanne Diacono 
(1275, comp. Potthast., Wegweiser, 766), No. 15 (Ducange-Henschel, Glossary^ 1845, 
IV., 304): **Accidit, quendam virum ex eius curia ad coUigendam exactionem regiam, 
quae vulgariter didtur Martiniega, in tempore hiemis sub mense Decembri Majorinum 
certissime advenisse." H. Pfannenschmid, Germanische Emtefeste^ 1878, p. 466. 

'Norrenberg, Geschichte der Pfarreien des Dekanates Miinchen Gladhach^ Coin, 
1889, p. 276, No. 23, A.D. 1324, Dec. 24: Among the revenues of the church at 
Giesenkirchen is named: "denarium, qui dicitur Mertyns penn3mge." 

•John E^le, A Hand- Book to the Land-Charters a$td other Saxonic Documents^ Oxford, 
1888, pp. 344-345* Eadward (1042- 1066), his Writ of Privileges to the Abbey of Ramsey, 
CO. Huntingdon (Manuscript of century xii., Cottoniana^ Otho, B, xiv., f. 257): "and 
ealle dha gyltes dha belimpedh td mtne kinehelme inne lol and inne E^teme and inne 
dha Mli wuca set Gangdagas on ealle thingan al sw& ic he6 meseolf ^e, and tolfreo 
ofer ealle Engleland, widhinne burhe and widhCitan, aet g&res cepinge and on sefrice 
styde, be wsetere and be lande; habeant et omnes forisfacturas quae pertinent ad 
r^;iam coronam meam in natali dominico, in pascha, et in sancta ebdomada rogationum, 
in omnibus rebus sicut ipse habeo, et per totam Angliam infra ciuitatem et extra, in 
omni foro et annuls nundinis et in omnibus omnino locis per aquam et terram, ab 
omni telonii exactione liberi sint." 

* Thorpe, Ancient Ltrws^ I., 436-7, "Rectitude Ancillae : ad hiemale companagium; 
ad quadragesimalem convictum ; and in aestate, i.e, to winter-sufle, to Isengten-sufle, and 
on sumera." A similar state of things survived up to the present time. Notes and Queries^ 
Ninth Series, February 4, 1899, p. 85, in a note on Pack Rag Feast by R. Hedger 
Wallace: "The agricultural labourers in some of the North Derbyshire villages, among 
other old customs, retain that of having a social gathering on Old Martinmas Day (23 
November), which is, not over politely, designated the Pack Rag Dinner. The name refers 
to the fact that the indoor menservants about the farms, who are changing masters at 
Martinmas, gather together their belongings for removal from one house to another." 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MARTINMAS, AND THE TRIPARTITION OF THE YEAR 37 

) dudes about the time of Charlemagne, and in the ninth century it was in 
j I general use,^ In thirteenth century ordinances about leases, geese or fowls 
( (are mentioned which are delivered at Martinmas.^ We know of such gifts 
i I to the clergy on saints' days from about the middle of the sixth century.^ 

^ Anton, Geschichte der Landwirtschaft^ I., p. 341, and Pfannenschmid, Germanische 
Emtefeste^ p. 204, confuse the legal recognition of an existing status with the introduction 
of it. 

^ Pfrundinordnung of the Monastery of Geisenfeld^ ed. by Wittmann, MUnchen, 1856; 
Lexer, Mittelhochdeutsches ErganzuHgswbrtet-buch, I. , p. 736 ; P&nnenschmid, Germaniscke 
EmtefestCy p. 205 : " leclichen hof und vourt unde sunderlich hus verzendet man mit eyme 
hune ze sente Mertinstage," Sachsempiegel^ ed. by Weiske, Landrecht, Book H., Art. 48, 
§ 5 ; or, as another version has it : ''Jeglichen hoflf, odder wUste hofstadt vnd sonderlich 
heuser, verzehent man mit einem hune, am S. Martinstag." ** An St Martinstag sind 
allerhand pfleg und zins verdient," Ibid, H., 58, from the thirteenth century, Middle 
Germany. 

^ Acta Conciliomm^ Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. HI., col. 352; Concilium Bracarense, I., 
xxi. : "Item placuit, ut si quid ex collatione fidelium, aut per festivitates martyrum, aut 
per commemorationem defiinctorum ofTertur, apud unum clericorum fideliter coUigatur ; et 
constituto tempore, aut semel, aut bis in anno, inter omnes clericos dividatur: nam non 
modica ex ipsa inaequalitate discordia generatur, si unusquisque in sua septimana quod 
oblatum fiierit, sibi defendat." Ample evidence on Martinmas as a term I have given in 
my Geschichte der deutschen iVeihnacht, Leipzig, 1893, pp. 23-28, and pp. 291-296. 
Mark's Geschichte vom Martini- Abend und Martins-Mann^ Hamburg, 1772, contains on 
pp. 26, 27 a chapter (13), Von der Zahlungsfrist auf Martini^ and mentions there 
documents of a.d. 1294, 1318, 1460, to which are to be added those mentioned in 
E. J. Westphalen's Monumenta Inedita, Part IV., Preface, p. 95. Nicolaus von Werle, 
A.D. 1297, gave the town of Waren exemtionem ab angarUs et petitionibus omnibus under 
the condition that the citizens every year at Martinmas would send him on a cart 
quantkatem seminum ; Georg Joachim Mark's Geschichte vom Martini-Abend und 
Martins- Mann^ Hamburg, 1772, p. 49. Ibid,^ p. 81, mentioned that two generations 
earlier Graf Heinrich of Schwerin concluded a bargain with Archbishop Engelbrecht of 
Koln to the effect that the archbishop had to send him annually at Martinmas fifteen 
harradas or barrels of wine. That book is devoted to the question of the origin of the 
custom of the so-called Martinsmann at LUbeck, which, however, it £uls to answer. The 
origin of the habit is unknown, but it is certain that in 1567 it was called an old habit, 
that on Martinmas the Town Council of the Imperial city of LUbeck sent a barrel of old 
RhHnweinmost to the Court of Schwerin. The story is frequently related in modem 
times, e.g,^ by Mark ; by Reimann, Deutsche Volksfeste^ p. 288 ; by Pfannenschmid, 
Germanische Emtefeste^ pp. 222, 223. As a gift in return for the duties paid — a kind 
of Germanic New Year's gift— the Town Council of LUbeck received some deer. The 
same was the case in Wilrtemberg monasteries. There the prelate was under obligation 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



38 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

That Martinmas was not merely a term like other terms, but the 
beginning of the economic year, is evident from the &ct that, in the 
Middle Ages, accounts run from Martinmas to Martinmas, and appointments 
were made for the same period, which is also understood to cover a year 
of taxation. 

As long as the duties were paid in natural products, the terms were 
the last days within which the duties had to be paid; but when the taxes 
were paid in money, they became the days on which the payment had to 
be made.^ As early as a.d. 1253 money pa]anents for the whole of the 
year of taxation were made at Martinmas.^ In medieval Frankfurt a. M. the 
year for which officials were appointed ran from Martinmas to Martinmas, 
or the Sunday previous.*^ So did the period of imperial taxation,* and so 



to give the Martin's wine to aU people of his place. In the provostship of Hellingen 
each holder of a tenure received a pint, each old man and each woman half a pint, and 
male and female servants, and even the baby in the cradle, a quarter (Nork, FestkaUfuUr^ 
p. 684 ; Reinsberg'DUringsfeld, Das festliche Jahr^ p. 340). Wine was also given at 
Martinmas at the court of the Archbishop of Mayence, at Erfiirt, about 1494 (Michelsen, 
Der Mainur Hof %u Erfurt am Ausgange des Mittelalters (1494), Jena, 1853, p. 26, Regu- 
lations for the KUchenmeister (the highest economic official) : *' Uff sanct Martins abent sal 
er wein, uff weihenachten opffergelt und uff das neue jhor zum neuen jhor geben, wie 
das rothbiichlein und die rechnung in belt, und auch christsemeln wie sich gehurth 
geben,*') and about 1520 at Wiirzburg, as Martin Boemus tells us. 

^Arnold, Zur Gtschkhte des Eigentums in den deuischen Stddten^ Basel, 1862, p. 68. 

'Grimm, Deutsche RechtsaUertiimer^ III., 607, Oeringen, A.D. 1253: "Swer dirre 
stete reht hat, der sol geben ze sante Mertins naht achte heUer, und sol daz jar alles fri 
sin zolles halp." 

^ Frankfurt a. M. Rechenhuch^ 1358-59, fol. 16*: ** Hartmude an fizscher porten synen 
jarlon 31b. 3ss. und geng sin jar an des suntags vor sant Mertinsdag." Ibid.^ 1374, fol. 
93*: "Sabbato ipso die divisionis apostolorum Gultsmede dem wechter uff dem thorne 
zu Boneraesse i lb. sines penning lones unde 2 lb. liir 3 achtel komes unde ist da midde 
sines halben jarlons bezalet unde ged sin jar uz unde an uff sand Mertinsdaig unde pliget 
man yme eyn jar zuo gebin 61b. 6 achteil kornes unde i rog ;" Ibid,^ 1474. fol. 22", under 
'*Einzelinge Innemen:" *Mtem 2951b. 14 ss. 4lh. han wir enphangen von Johan Heller, 
schriber im spitale zum heiligen geiste als der uns rechnunge getan hat von dem jare das 
Martini anno 74 ussgangen ist." Actum sabbato post dominicam E^to mihi anno 1475. 

^Frankfurt Rechenbuch^ 1435, fol. 39», under "Einzelinge ussgeben:" "i 100 lb., 
141b. m}mner 3iss. han wir ussgeben und bezalt unserm gnedigen herren dem keiser 
keiser Sigmund die gewonliche des rijchs sture von sant Mertinstag izunt vergangen die im 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS, AND THE TRI-PARTITION OF THE YEAR 39 

it came that the tax had to be paid for all people who lived to see 
St. Martin's day, but not for those who died before it, because their lives 
did not cover the whole of the taxation year.^ On the other hand, the 
amount of com and wine requisite for maintaining the owner and his 
servants from the date of paying the taxes till Martinmas was free from 
duty,' Martinmas being the last term for paying the duties.^ In the medieval 
Frankfurt a. M., all through the fourteenth century, the taxes were raised 
in November or December,* as they are now in Scotland, the taxation year 
beginning with Martinmas.^ In the thirteenth century the winter, during 
which all agricultural work was interrupted, was counted from Martinmas till 
St Petri ad cathedram (Feb. 22), for during that time, in 1297, the Pfahl- 
burger of Frankfurt a. M. were required to have a household within the 
ramparts of the city.® That on the banks of the Rhine Martinmas in the 
twelfth century also was considered as the beginning of the economic year is 
evident from a document of a.d. 1149, of Hirzenach, near Boppard, according 
to which once a year judgment was held, and the day of it proclaimed the 
day after Martinmas,^ />., at the beginning of that year economic. 

In medieval Tirol Martinmas began the business year for which all officials 

Walther Swarzenberg, Heinrich vom Rijne und andere des lades frunde umb siner 
sunderlichen begerunge willen zu Pressburg zuvor bezalten und ussrichten uff sine quer- 
tandl." 

^ Bedebtuh cf Frankfurt a, M, of A.D. 1476, Ob, 19*: **6ss. von siner swieger seligen 
wegen, die nach sant Mertins dage von dodes wegen ab^egangen SsX." 

"Karl Biicher, Die Bevolkerung von Frankfurt a, M.y I., p. 263. 

^ Ibid,, I., p. 354, from the Ciiizenbook of 1378. He who does not pay his citizen 
money, "sal geben zuschen hie vnd sant Mertins dag neist kommet 10 lb. und 4ss. hell; 
wo he det nit entede, so mochte man sie uff in zun juden uff sinen schaden nemen;" 
Ibid,^ I., p. 485, A.D. 1372, the inhabitants of the villages which are under the protectorate 
of the city have to give "eyme schultheizsen e3men schilling phennige vnd ein hun uff 
sant Martins dag"; Jbid.^ I., p. 486, A.D. 1383, *' Und sal . . . dem schultheiszen sin 
recht uff sant Mertins dag." 

* Karl BUcher, Zwei mittelalterliche Steuerordnungen in KUinere Beiirdge zur Geschichte 
von Dounten tier Leipsiger Hochschule^ Leipzig, 1894, p. 139. 

^ Ibid., p. 150: The duties are to be raised (a.d. 1474) **eyn iglich der nehst komenden 
dry jare zu heben und zu sant Mertins dag schirst kommend anetzufsihen. " 

•BUcher, Bevolkerung von Frankfurt a. AT., I., p. 370. 

"^ Annalen fur Rheinische Geschichtskunde, Vol. LXIL, p. 39. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



40 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

were elected,^ and for which duties and interests were paid.* If anybod/s 
property was burnt before St Martin's day, he needed to pay no duties that 
year.* Besides, Martinmas began the rustic winter in Tirol so late as the 
fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.* When drawing conclusions from his 
discussion of popular Martinmas, Heino Pfannenschmid, who firmly believes 
that the Germanic year began with the winter solstice, arrives at the result* 
''that Martinmas forms the conclusion of the peasant agricultural year. This 
is also shown by the fact that most leases end about Martinmas, when the 
rent has to be paid, which might have been hard for many a one, though 
the harvest had been reaped and turned into money. To this refer the 
sayings, 'Martin is a severe man,' and 'Martin is a bad man.'® So other 
payments are made, and accounts handed in, at Martinmas;^ all sorts of 
duties in kind and money are paid to monasteries, churches, parishes ; church 
accounts are made up and paid. The conclusion of the old agricultural 
and crop year on Martinmas is finally marked by the changing of servants. 
With this end of the old agricultural and crop year a new one began. Then 
the new lease year begins both in Germany and England ; new servants are 
hired. ... In France Martinmas was considered the beginning of winter 



^Zingerle, Tiroler IVeistiimer, II., p. 173, a.d. 1580, of Nassereit and Torminr, Upper 
Engadine: ''SoUen drei erbare verstendige manospersonen . . • jarlich an sanct Martins 
des heiligen bischofs tag . . . zu gwalthabem und dreierem . . . fiirgenomen, erwolt und 
erkiest werden;** /Wof., III., p. 258, A.D. 1607, of Latsch, Vintschgau : " Ein feldsaltner 
soli, wo es kann, auch am kassuntag, wo nit doch neyst damach angenomen und seinen 
dienst, als hemach folgt unzt auf Martini zu verrichten schuldig sein ;" Ibid,^ III., p. 193, 
A.D. 16 1 4, of Kortsch, Vintschgau : ** Der messner allhier hat auch jahrlich am st Martinstag 
urlaub, und soil auch jahrlich vor der ganzen gemeinde stehen und um solches amt bitten ; " 
Ibid.^ II., p. 168, A.D. 1674 ; I., p. 79, A.D. 1727. 

^Ibid., II., p. 310, A.D. 1303 ; II., p. 104, A.D. 1416; III., p. 351, A.D. 1427. 

* Ibid,,, III., p. 7, A. D. 1440, of Glums, Vintschgau : " Und ob dann ainer verprent wurd 
oder verprunne vor sand Martins tag, derselb sol umb dieselben zins desselben jars ledig und 
los sein." A long list of other cases is given in the apparatus to my GeschichU der detUschen 
WeihnacJU^ p. 293. 

*Zingerle, TiroUr JVeistiimery IV., p. 33, A.D. 143 1, of Partschins ; Ibid., III., p. 65, 
A.D. 1630, of Burgeis. 

* Germanische ErrUefeste, Hannover, 1878, p. 237. 

* Nork, Festkalmder, p. 683, and Simrock, Martins Lieder^ xv. 

^ Leoprechting, Aus dcm Leckrain, p. 200; Birlinger, Am Sckwaben, II., 132. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS, AND THE TRI-PARTITION OF THE YEAR 41 

and of the new year^ the legend of St. Martin explaining the latter fact 
as a proof of the high esteem and reverence in which that Saint was 
held. But in Germany also the time about Martinmas must have been 
considered as, in a certain respect, the beginning of the year. As the day 
b^an with the eve, so for the ancient Germans the new year could b^n 
with the beginning of winter at Martinmas. After the time of Gregory of 
Tours, even a new era was computed from St Martin's death, just as an era 
was computed from Christ's death." ^ Montanus^ noted that formerly every- 
where, and in his time still on the left bank of the Rhine, the lease year 
and agricultural year closed with Martinmas, to which Pfannenschmid* added 
that that was also the case in Lower Saxony and in other provinces of 
Germany. The Church Ordinance of Hoya of 1573* fixed Martinmas as the 
date for the elders of the church to lay the accounts before the officials in 
presence of the minister. Pfannenschmid gives a long list of facts in support 
of Martinmas being an old term. Male and female farm servants changed 
their places at Martinmas.^ About Martinmas, at Seelze near Hannover, 
male farm servants changed.® Elsewhere female farm servants changed,^ 
and in other regions all servants did.^ In the Havel country it was so 
till a short time ago. Now they change at Christmas.^ Also the lease year 
b^an at Martinmas in Germany and England.^^ Even Grotefend (who has 
been completely led astray by Weinhold's theories, according to which the 
Germanic year was divided by solstices and equinoxes) has to confess" that 
among the country folk in various districts Martinmas means the beginning 
of winter, where a dual division of the year prevails. 



^ P£Emnenschmid, GtrmanUche EmUfesU^ p. 511. 

« Vdksfeste, I., 55. ' Gemtanische Emtefeste, p. 51 1. 

*Richter, II., 359; P&nnenschmid, Germanische ErtUeftste^ p. 511. 

•Schambach, Worterbuchy 131. •Waldniann, Eichsfelder Gebrauche^ 15. 

^Danneil, AUtnarkisches Worterbuch^ 132. 

'Kuhn und Schwartz, NorddaUsche Sagm, II., 401 ; Birlinger, Aus Sckwaben, II., 132. 

^Ibid, 

i^'Nork, FestkaUnder, p. 683; Simrock, Mythologies 574; MUlhause, UrreUgion^ p. 308; 
Rochholz, Wandelkirchen^ p. 14. 

^^ '* Mardnstag ist bei der Zweiteilung des Jahres provindell als Anfang des Winters 
gebrauchlich " {Ztitrechnungy I., 119). 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



42 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

In German folk-belief there is still a faint recollection of Martinmas being 
the old Germanic New Year. It is in some phrases still used as identical 
with year, or with winter, as the phrase went previously. Instead of: "a 
man has lived through many years," the folk say: The man has helped to 
eat many a St Martin's goose.^ The old hexameter, 

"Iss Ganss Martini, trink Wein ad drculum anni," 
also alludes to Martinmas as the beginning of the year, when people 
drank good luck to a new annual course. 

Beside the legal institution of termly duties stands that of regular 
assemblies, the so-called not-ordered law courts. It was shown before that 
there existed among the Germanics sometimes three (originally held at mid- 
November, mid-March, and mid-July),^ sometimes two (originally held at 
mid-November and mid-May), according to a dual division or a tri-partition 
of the year. It is a fact of great weight that they adhere to these terms, 
even when one or two of them disappear. 

The only foreign impost imposed by the Church upon her believers was 
the Peter's penny. It was by a perfectly voluntary act that the payment 
of it was fixed at St. Peter's mass. Thus it has nothing to do with ancient 
Germanic institutions. Its name Rome-feoh on British ground showed the 
foreign origin and purpose of it only too clearly. Keeping this in mind, 
we cannot fail to see that the ordinary taxes as well as duties like light-scot 

'Grimm*s Worterbuch, IV., i, 1262. The explanation of that phrase, given there by 
Rudolf Hildebrand, is wrong. The time from one St. Martin's goose to the next is 
properly regarded as a complete year. 

^A curious interpretation of the word Trithinga, which shows that its meaning had 
been forgotten entirely, is given by Flda seu ComnunioHus Juris Angticani sic nuncupatust 
sub Edwardo Re§e primo seu circa annos aihinc cccxu ab Anonytno conscriptus^ atque e 
Codice vtteriy autore ipso aliquarUulum recentiori, nunc primum typis ediius^ Londini, 1647, 
p. 134, Lib. II., chap. Ixi., § 23 : ** De tritingis, sciendum quod aliae potestates erant 
super wapentakia quae tritinga dicebantur, eo quod erat tertia pars provinciae ; quia vero 
super eos dominabantur, trithingreves vocabantur, quibus dififerebantur causae quae non in 
wapentakiis poterint diffiniri in Schiram, sicque quod Anglic! vocant hundredos, jam, per 
variationem locorum et idiomatis, wapentakia appellantur, et tria, vel quatuor, vel plura 
hundredi solebont Trithinga vocari ; et quod in Trithingis non potuit diffiniri, in Schiram 
id est, in comitatum differebatur terminandum : modemis autem temporibus pro uno 
eodemque habentur apud homines hundredi, wakentakia, et Trithinga." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



if. J 



9ai ■' 






MARTINMAS, AND THE TRI-PARTITION OF THE YEAR 43 

had to be paid three times a year, though their exact terms vary a little in 
the several districts. Under King Ethelred (991-1016) plough-alms were 
to be paid xv. days after Easter, and a tithe of young by Pentecost, and 
of earth fruits by All-hallows' mass (and Rome-feoh by St. Peter's 
mass), and light-scot thrice in the year,^ one of the days of payment for 
them being Candlemas.^ 

In the Rectitudo Ancillae^ mid-Lent is named as the second of the three 
terms of the year, the term used being to Icsngten-sufle and ad guadragesi- 



* Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ L, p. 306: **xi. And gelaeste man Godes gerihta geome 
s^hwylce geare. that is. sulh-aslmessan xv. niht on u£ui Eastran. and gedgodhe teodhunge 
be Pentecosten. and eordh-wsestma be Ealra H^lgena maessan. and Roro-feoh be Petres 
msessan. and le6ht-gescot thriw& on geare*'; and Ibid,^ I., p. 318, in the resolutions 
passed at the Council of Enham : " xvi. And gelseste man Godes gerihta. seghwilce 
geare rihtlice geome. that is. sulh-xlmessan hum xx. niht ofer Eastron : xvii. And 
gedgodhe teodhunge be Pentecosten. and eordh-waestma be Ealra Hdlgena msessan : 
xviii. And Rom-fe6h be Petres maessan. and ciric-sceat td Martinus msessan : xix. 
And le6ht-gescot thriwa on geare"; IbU.y I., 338, under King Ethelred: ** iv. Et 
praecipimus, ut omnis homo, super dilectionem Dei et omnium sanctorum, det cyricsceattum 
et rectam dedmam suam, sicut in diebus antecessorum nostrorum stetit, quando melius 
stedt ; hoc est» sicut aratrum peragrabit decimam acram. *' 

^ Ibid,y I., p. 342 (also under King Ethelred): '*ix. And st selc ge(^dhe teodhung 
gelsst be Pentecosten be wtte. and eordh-waestma be emnihte. oththe huru be Ealra 
Hilgena msessan." (Here the equinox was probably substituted for the older All- Hallows 
term.) **x. And Rom-fe6h gelseste man seghwilce geare be Petres maessan. and sethe 
that nelle gelaestan sylle thar-t6-eacan. xxx. peninga. and gilde tham cyninge cxx. 
scillingas. xi. And ciric-sceat gelseste man be Martinus-msessan. and sethe that ne 
gelaeste for gilde hine mid twelflfealdan. and tham cyninge cxx. scillingas. xiL Sulh- 
admessan gebyredh that man gelseste be wtte aeghwilce geare. thonne xv. niht beodh 
jig4n ofer Easter-tld. and leoht-gescot gelaeste man t6 Candel-maessan. d6 oftor sethe 
wille." The same is ordained in the Laws of King Cnut^ 1017-1042 (Ibid, I., 366: 
" viii. And gelaest man Godes gerihta aeghwylce geare rihtlice geome. that is. sulh- 
selmesse huru fiftene niht ofer Eastran. and geogudhe teodhunge be Pentecosten. and 
eordh-wsestma be Ealra H^lgena msessan. ix. De Nummo Romano. And Rom-fe6h 
be Petres maessan. x. De Primitiis Seminum. And cyric-sceat to Martines maessan. 
xii. De Pecunia Pro Lucemis. And le6ht-gesceot. thrtw4 on geare. aerest on Easter- 
aefen healf-penig-wurdh wexes set selcere hide, and eft on Ealra H^lgena maessan eall 
swa mycel. and eft to thaem Sanctan Mariam claensunge eal swa " (Feb. 2) ; Ibid, , I. , 
434-35 : ** Et det suum cyric-sceatum in festo Sancti Martini (and sylle his cyric-sceat to 
Martinus maessan *'), {Rectitudines Singularum Personarutn\ 

•Thorpe's Ancient Laws,, I., 436-7. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



44 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

malem convictum. The fourteenth century Rhenish Urbary of St. Victor, 
Xanten,^ gives St Gertrudis Day (March 17) as the spring term, whilst 
Tirol documents of the fifteenth century call it simply miUe nierzen,^ whilst, 
two centuries later,* summer was reckoned to begin on April 23,* the 
beginning of winter being in both cases Martinmas. In Flanders St 
Gertrudis Day (March 17) is called Sommer iag,^ Just as the mid-May term, 
which halved the year beginning at Martinmas, was easily replaced by the 
Rogation Days, and afterwards by Pentecost, so the nearness of the Christian 
festival of Easter could scarcely fail to become detrimental to a mid-Lent 
term, or rather to a mid-March term. The earliest date on which Easter 
could fall was March 22, a date only a week distant from March 15. 
Grimm has shown® that the three old Germanic offering-tides coincided 
with the Thing tides, nay, represented one side of them. There is no doubt 
that the autumn Thing and the spring Thing were the most important, 
while the summer Thing could not be so significant, for the very simple 
reason that, in time of war, almost all men able to bear arms were away. 
A festival about the middle of July I should be the last to deny to Ger- 
manics, Slavs, and Celts, but that it had any early relation to a summer 
solstice which fell about three weeks earlier must be most emphatically 
gainsaid. It is true the festivals which appear in medieval poetry are 
almost all celebrated either at Pentecost or ze einer sunnemvenden (about 
June 24). But to that date the festival of the beginning of late summer at 
mid-July had been shifted in the tenth or eleventh century, whilst the 
legal term in many places remained where it had been. As the expression 
ze einer sunnenwenden is foreign, so the date itself is foreign. Were it 
otherwise, and had June 24 been an old Germanic date (so that the other 
two had originally fallen on October 24 and February 24), it would be 
quite inexplicable how the term could have moved away from it to mid-July, 
which was equally out of keeping with October i, with Christmas, and with 

1 Sute- Archive, DUsseldorf, under "Stift Xanten," R. No. 8% leaf %\ 

^Zingcrle, TiroUr Weistiimer^ IV., p. 33, a.d. 1431, at Partschins. 

'A.D. 1630, at Burgeis. *Zingerle, TiroUr WHstiimer, III., p. 65. 

^Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des detUschen MiiielalterSi I., 178. 

^Deutsche RechtsaltertUmer^ 821 ss. 245, 745. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS, AND THE TRI-PARTITION OF THE YEAR 45 

Easter. Besides, there is no trace of sun-worship whatever in Germanic 
religion,^ and in the Scandinavian North the existence of a midsummer 
Thing is as well vouched as any fact of Old Norse history, without it showing 
the slightest trace of a relation to a sun-cult Quite in accordance with 
the fact that the Scandinavian year began between October 9 and 14, and 
had a Gbiblbt between February 9 and 14^ the summer Thing was held 
between June 9 and 14. In Germany, where the terms of both the 
beginning of winter and of the beginning of early summer fell one month 
later, the festival at the beginning of later summer must have been held 
about July 15. In the Rhenish Urbary of St Victor, Xanten,^ July 12 
(St Margaret's day) was marked, not only as the beginning of a new season, 
but even as the beginning of a new year. At other places July 17 appears 
as the joyous day. So in Swabia children and gilds received gifts — the 
latter of wine.^ It is also the day of old bonfires in Villingen, Swabia.^ 
In the Netherlands the old season of four months, from March 15 to 
July 15, was till very late called May,^ just as in Germany a Roman quarter 
of a year was taken as identical with spring, and counted from February 22 
to May 25.^ That that popular summer festival had originally nothing to 
do with a solstice appears from the fact that even July 25 was called te 
tnidzomer (1419) or na midden-somere (1351).' In 1461 it was still taken 
as corresponding to Christmas, and was the occasion of a local fair like that 
festival.® It was still regarded also as one summer term in the Tirol of the 
sixteenth century. It divided the time of pasture into two halves, and he 
who, at Laatsch, Tirol, in 1546, bought oxen after that term, and put them 



^Holtzmann, Gtrmanische Altertiimer^ Leipzig, 1873, PP* 1^7 ^^'^ ^73; Grimm, 
Deutsche Mythologies 591. 

« State- Archive, DUsseldorf, under "Stift Xanten," R. No. 8*, leaf 8*. 

'Birlinger, Aus SchweUten^ XL, p. 118. 

*/did,; and Mone, Queliensammlung^ H., 88'. 

* Tijdschrift v, nederl. Taaik, IX., 134 ; Grotefend, Zeitrechnung^ I., 116. 

^Baltische Siudien, XIX., 49: "de Mey beginnet in sunte Peters daghe, de summer 
in sunte Urbans daghe" (Grotefend, Zeitrechnung^ I., 116). 

'Grotefend, Zeitrechnungy I., 87. 

^ AnncUen des historischen Vereins fiir den Niederrhein,Vo\. LXV., p. 42 (Town- Archive 
of Kempen, Docs. Nos. 367 and 387). It there appears as St. Jacob's day. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



46 VULE AND CHRISTMAS 

on the common pasture ground of the community, had to pay to the 
community four Bernese pounds for each pair,i whilst, a century later (in 
1647), the term had been shifted to St. Vitus Day, June 15.* In the Anglo- 
Saxon Rectitudo Andllae^ this term is called on sumera or in aestate (an 
expression corresponding to Old Icelandic at sumri^ />., June 9 to 14), 
meaning a day about mid-July. When it had been shifted to June 24, it 
was called midsummer. Midsummer was a later Anglo-Saxon term recognized 
by law : "A sheep shall go with its fleece until Midsummer, or let the fleece 
be paid for with two pence/' is a doom in King Ine's Laws.^ But 
occasionally the regular law courts and assemblies were held still later. 
More than once the day of the beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29) 
is fixed as the term at which the bishops and reeves are to adjudge the 
king's commands to all whom it behoveth.^ 

The tri-partition of the year — Martinmas, mid-March, mid- July — ^was, till 
late in the Middle Ages, more than an artificial division of the year carried 
on by tradition without apparent reason. It was deeply rooted in economic 
life, and in conditions affecting pasture and agriculture. In connection with 
the keeping of domestic animals, as well as with the ploughing of the fields, 
traces of an old tri-partition have come down to us. The anonymous Anglo- 
French Seneschaucie of the thirteenth century® ordains : " The bailiff ought, 
after St. John's Day, to cause all the old and feeble oxen with bad teeth 
to be drafted out, and all the old cows, and the weak and the barren, and 
the young avers that will not grow to good, and put them in good pasture 
to fatten, so the worst shall then be worth a better. And he ought, three 
times a year, to cause all the sheep in his charge to be inspected by men 
who know their business — that is, to wit, after Easter, because of the disease 
of May, and later, for then sheep die and perish by the disease; and all 



>Zingerle, TiroUr Weisiunur, Vol. III., p. 103. 

' In the neighbouring community of Schleiss (Zingerle, TiroUr Weistumer^ Vol, III., p. 89). 
'Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ I., 436-7. 

♦Thorpe, AncierU Laws^ I., p. 146: **odh midne sumor." 

^ Laws of King Athelstant I., Thorpe's Aruieftt Laws^ I., p. 194: "ond thaes sie to thaem 
dseg thaer beheafdunges Seint lohannes thaes fulhteres. " 

* Ed. by Elizabeth Lamond in Walter of Henley's Husbandry, London, 1890, p. 97. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS, AND THE TRI-PARTITION OF THE YEAR 47 

that are found so, by the sure proof of killmg two or three of the best, 
and as many of the middling, and as many of the worst, or by proof of the 
eye or of the wool, which separates from the skin, let them be sold with 
all the wool. And again, let all the old and weak be drafted out before 
Lammas, and let them be put in good pasture to fatten, and when the best 
have presently mended and are fat, let them be sold to the butchers; so 
can one do well, for mutton flesh is more sought after and sold then than 
after August; and let all the rest of the draft beasts which cannot be sold then 
be sold before Martinmas. And the third time, at Michaelmas, let all the 
sheep be drafted out,"^ In the same century elsewhere the day of testing the 
health of wethers was October 28. Walter of Henley, in his Husbandry^ 
laid it down that two of the best wethers, two of the middling, and two of 
the worst should be killed on that day. If they were found not to be sound, 
a part was to be sold by true men for good security, until Hockday 
(Thursday after Easter), and then replaced.^ Almost the same way of 
denoting a third of a year is found in connection with sheep-keeping ; from 
Martinmas to Pasch sheep were to spend their nights under shelter.* 

In agricultural life in the middle of the thirteenth century the three terms 
were known in low Latinity as Hibemagiumy Tratmesium, and Warectum, 
They then continued to determine the ploughing times, which seem to have 
occupied the latter half of each of the old three seasons.^ 



^''£ tote le remeignant de creim ke ne put estre uendu adonkes seit vendu deuant la 
seint martin." 

'Walter of Henley's Husbandry ^ ed. by Elizabeth Lamond, London, 1890, p. 33: "A 
la seynt symon e seyn lude facet tuer deus de meylurs e deus de myuueyns e deus de 
pyres e si vos trouet ke eus ne seyent mye seyens fetes vendre vne partye a lele genz par 
bone surte iekes a la hokeday e done fetes releuer autres." 

^ Fleta seu Commentarius Juris AngKcani^ London, 1647, p. 167, Lib. II., chap. Ixxix., 
§ 7 : '* Inter festa autem sancti Martini et Paschae, infra domum oves expedit noctanter 
custodire, nisi terra sicca fuerit, ovileque bene reparatum, tempusque serenum." 

^ Registrum sive Liber Irroiularius et Consuetudinarius Prioratus Beatae Afariae 
Wigomiensis'. with an Introduction, Notes, and Illustrations by William Hale Hale, 
Londini, Sumptibus Societatis Camdensis, 1865; Redditus Prioratus Wigomiae Anno 
Incamationis Domini mccxl., p. 14*': "Praeterea arabit ad yvemagium, tramesium. et ad 
warrectum, per unum diem, excepto opere, et vocatur * benherthe.' " Ibid,^ p. 14*': 
**Praeterea arabit et herciabit I. die ad yvemagium ; et Prior inveniet semen, et si necesse 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



48 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

fuerit quaelibet herciabit pro opere, donee perventum fuerit ad canicas, praeterea arabit uno 
die ad tramesium, et uno die warectabit," etc., ut supra. Ibid,^ p. iS**: ''Nova assisa de 
vilenagio de Mora. In hoc manerio sunt xxvii. dimidiae virgatae Quarum quaelibet ad 
firmam posita reddit ad quemlibet tenninum ii** solidos et in Purificatione I quarter, 
avenae. Quaelibet etiam debet x*^^ summagia apud Wygomiam et terram arare sicut sibi 
arat ; scilicet semel ad yvernagium et ad tratmesium et ad warectum et debent sarclare et 
metere et intassare una cum cottariorum operibus et aliorum in autumpno totum bladum de 
dominico, et debent Thac et Thol et pannagium et gersummationem prolis et hujusmodL" 
Ibid., p. 19^: *'£t dat auxilium, scilicet xviii. denarios Et in Purificatione dimidiam 
quarterium avenae et facit iii*^ aruras scilicet ad yvernagium ad tratmesium et ad Warectum 
et ili«» Benrip." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER V. 

MARTINMAS, AND THE DUAL DIVISION OF THE YEAR 

In Germany mid-May and Martinmas appear as the two half-yearly terms 
as late as 1525. In that year the peasants of his district reproached the Count 
of Fiirstenberg for having increased the taxes, the same being then raised 
twice a year as May tax and autumn tax. In reality these taxes had, as is 
shown by the Fiirstenberg Urbaria^ been raised almost regularly through 
the whole of the fifteenth century. The holders petitioned the Count to 
reduce these two taxes to one, which should be paid at Martinmas.^ In 
the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland^ almost all accounts of provosts of burghs are 
dated Whitsunday and Martinmas, while the dates of the custumars' accounts 
vary considerably. Even accounts "for four years ending Martinmas, 1331 " 
occur. Martinmas appears considerably oftener than Whitsunday, thus 
being shown to have been the more important term, at which not only 
half a year but a whole year ended. In the second volume, which covers 
the years 1359 to 1379, Whitsunday and Martinmas are also the two main 
terms occurring in accounts.' 

^ The application of the small-holders is printed by Baumann, Akttn tur GesckUhte des 
deutschen Bauemkrieges aus Oberschwaben^ Freiburg i. B., 1877, and is commented upon 
by Hossler, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte dts Bauemkrieges in Siidwestdeutschlandy Leipzig 
Dissertation, 1895, P* 49- 

^RotuH Scaccarii Regum Scatorum, edited by John Stuart and George Burnett, Vol. I., 
1264-1359, Edinburgh, 1878. 

•On pages viii., x., xi., xii., xv., xvii. to xx., xxiii. to xxv., long lists of accounts, 
beginning and ending at those days, are enumerated, just as in the contents of Vol. III., 

D 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



50 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

In England this state of things was codified by Edward the Confessor 
( 1 042-1066), perhaps with a slight alteration of the existing usage. Whilst 
mid-May or Rogation Days as a rule appear as the old legal term, Edward 
ordained that the great assembly of his people was to take place on May i.^ 
As regards the Franks^ it has been finally proved that their great annual 
assembly took place in the middle of May. Can the name of this assembly 
Campus Martins (to be translated May-field) suggest that previously, when 
the tri-partition prevailed and there were three such meetings, the most 
important of them was held in the middle of March, and thus has nothing 
to do with Afars = Ziu7 This institution extended all over German soil as far 
as to the Italian frontier. As late as 128 1 the community of Fleims, in the 
secular territory of Trient, reserved to itself the right of keeping two placita — 
the one in May and the other in November.^ It took a very long time to uproot 
this institution,^ and replace it by meetings held according to Roman quarters 
of years and Christian high festivals. 

Legal institutions were not the only form in which the Germanic terms 
survived. Very early the Christian Church in Gaul was compelled to make 
considerable concessions to the Germanic mode of dividing the year, which, 

which covers the time from 1379-1406. The most frequent phrases of Vol. II. are: "de 
termino beati Martini ultimo preterito" (p. 475); "de termino Sancti Martini" (p. 621 twice; 
p. 281) ; " de duobus terminis huius compoti, videlicet Pentecostes et Sancti Martini " (pp. 
72, 73) ; " de termino Pentecostes ultimo preterito " (pp. 72, 73) ; ** de terminis Pentecostes 
et Sancti Martini " (pp. 72, 73 twice) ; **de eodem termino Pentecostes" (pp. 72, 73 twice). 

'^ In capiie Ccdendarum Maji^ Hampson, II., 94, Grotefend, Zeitrechnung^ I., 2Xf, The 
spring term appearing probably with most frequency in other connections is the Rogation 
Days. "And we ordain that every *burh* be repaired xiv. days over Rogation Days." 
Laws of King Athehtan^ Thorpe's Andtnt Laws^ I., p. 206, No. 13: **xiiii. niht ofer 
Gang-dagas." "And every man that will may make *b6t* for every theft with the 
accuser, without any kind of ' wite,' until Rogation days ; and be it after that as it was 
before." /5n/., p. 222, Laws of King Athehtany iii. : **odh Gong-dagas." 

* H. L. Ahrens, Uber Namen und Zeit des campus Martins der alten Franken^ Hannover, 
1872. 

'^Pontes Rerum Austriacarum^ Second Division, LHphmata^ Vol. V., No. 212, p. 417: 
" Allegando, quod ipsi homines et communitas de Flemmis sicut de jure et ex antiquo est 
observatum, nisi bis in anno quolibet non debeant conveniri in foro temporali et juri parere 
in civilibus et sub judicio esse, videlicet ad placitum in festo s. Martini et in placito 
in Majo. ..." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS, AND THE DUAL DIVISION OF THE YEAR 51 

about the year 500 a.d., found expression in processions and litanies at 
the two terms of mid-May and mid-November. Two closely corresponding- 
Church celebrations were held at these tides, so that their relationship 
cannot fail to appear. In 511 a.d. the Council of Orleans instituted the 
so-called Rogations before the Ascension day,^ and decreed a three days* 
liberation from all work for servants of both sexes. Because of a suspicion 
that the clergy might try to ignore this new institution, as too great a 
concession to the Germanic field processions about mid-May, a special 
canon was added, threatening them with punishment in case of non-com- 
pliance with the command of the Church. Bye and bye some change took 
place in the date of the praying processions round the fields, fiirther 
concessions being made to the Germanic celebration, or uoba^ in the 
corresponding tide of the year in November. The Synod of Gerunda of June 8, 
517, at which six bishops and one archbishop were present, ordained in 
its second and third canons that litanies and fasts should be held in the 
weeks subsequent to Pentecost and to the Calends of November respectively,* 
so that the latter were held between November i and November 9. That 
this was a permanent institution appears from Canon VI. of the second 
Synod of Lyon in 567," fi-om which we also learn that, between 517 and 

'^Acia CanciliorutHt Parisiis, 17141 Vol. II., col. loii-i2; Concilium Aurelianense^ I., 
A.D. 511, Canon xxvii. : " Rogationes, id est, litanias ante Ascensionem Domini ab omnibus 
ecclesiis placuit celebrari ; ita ut praemissum triduanum jejunium in Dominicae Ascensionis 
festivitate solvatur: per quod triduum servi et andllae ab omni opere relaxentur, quo 
magis plebs universa conveniat: quo triduo onmes abstineant, et quadragesimalibus cibis 
utantur." Canon xxviii. : " Clerici vero qui ad hoc opus sanctum adesse contempserint, 
secundum arbitrium episcopi ecclesiae suscipiant disdplinam." 

^Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. II., col. 1043; Concilium Gerundeme^ A.D. 517, ii. : 
**De litania, ut expleta solemnitate Pentecostes, sequens septimana, a quinta feria usque 
in sabbatum, per hoc triduum abstinentia celebretur. iii. Item secundae litaniae fociendae 
sunt Kalendis Novembris, ea tamen conditione servata, ut si iisdem diebus Dominica 
intercesserit, in alia hebdomada, secundum prioris abstinentiae observantiam, a quinta 
feria incipiantur, et in sabbato vespere missi facta finiantur. Quibus tamen diebus a 
camibus et a vino abstinendum decrevimus." 

^Acta Conciliorum, Vol. III., col. 355; Concilium Lugdunense^ II., A.D. 567, vi.: "Placuit 
enim universb fratribus, ut in prima hebdomada noni mensis, hoc est, ante diem Dominicam, 
quae prima in ipso mense illuxerit, litaniae, sicut ante Ascensionem Domini sancti patres 
fieri decreveront, deinceps ab omnibus ecclesiis, seu parochiis celebrentur." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



52 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



567 A.D., the Church had returned to the older date of the spring litany, 
to the days preceding Ascension day, which apparently almost coincided 
with the ancient Germanic May term. The autumn litany was then ordained 
to be held before November 7 — ^which implied almost no alteration. ^ In 
517 there existed neither a forty days' fasting-tide from Martinmas to 
Christmas nor even Martinmas itself. Martin of Tours had died in 401, but 
he was not made St. Martin till long after. His feast appears first in a Sacra- 
fnentarium by Pope Gelasius I. (492-496), and in the Liber Sacramentarum 
of Gregory the Great (590-604);* but it was only Pope Martin I. 
(649-654) who made it a great Church festival." So the excuse is not 
possible that the praying procession was instituted as a preparation for St 
Martinmas, or the fasting-tide beginning with it, as has been suggested 
by a man so ingenious as Heino Pfannenschmid.^ For, according to his 
own words, the first certain traces of an Advent-tide are found in some 
homilies,*^ probably written by Caesarius of Aries, who died in 542. Yet 
even there it is only the question of a general preparation for Christmas, 
and by no means of a prevailing custom or an ecclesiastical statute.^ 
According to Gregory of Tours,^ who died in 595, it was Bishop Perpetuus 
of Tours (who died as Bishop of Toulouse in 506) who ordained for his 
diocese a fast of three days a week, from St. Martin's burial day till 
Christmas.® From the bishopric of Tours the habit of keeping an Advent- 
tide seems then to have spread over the whole territory of the Church. 

First the new fast-tide referred to monks only. In the second Synod of 
Tours in 567 (where nine bishops were gathered, and among them those 
of Tours, Rouen, and Paris), with the consent of King Charibert, a daily 



^ About nanus w/wj = November, comp. Eccard, Commentarim de Reims Franciae, 
I., 131. 

* Pfimnenschmid, Germanische ErntefesU^ p. 464. 

'Wandalbert, Martyrologium in d* Archery, Specilegium veterum Scriptorum, T. II.; 
Pfennenschmid, Ibid,^ p. 465. 

^Germanische Emtefeste, p. 515. 

•In Appendix Augustianus^ Tom. V. Operum SL Augustini, nova edit,. No. 115 et 116. 

•Binterim, Denkumrdigkeiten, V., L, 164. 'Lib. X., Hist,, ch^i^, xxxi. 

*"A depositione domini Martini usque ad Natale domini." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS, AND THE DUAL DIVISION OF THE YEAR 53 

fast was decreed for monks during December up till Christmas day, a 
period bye and bye extended to forty days, and made applicable to laymen 
also. The first testimony as to a general celebration of an Advent-tide 
is an ordinance on fasting for lajrmen given by the first Synod of Macon, 
which was called in 581 by the Frankish king, Guntram, and was attended 
by twenty-one bishops from various provinces of the Church, among others 
by the bishops of Lyon, Vienne, Sens, and Bourges. Its Canon IX. runs as 
follows : " From St. Martin's day till Christmas every Monday, Wednesday, 
and Friday is to be a day of fast"^ At the end of the sixth century 
Rome took over that forty-day fast-tide preceding Christmas, and in the 
seventh century it was kept all over Italy, Spain, and England. In 
Germany it was ordained by the Synods of Aix-la-Chapelle in 836, and at 
Erfurt in 932. The period of fast as well as its strictness varied, however, 
considerably. Finally, the whole fortnight preceding Christmas was declared 
a continuous fast-tide, and the week preceding Christmas a time void of 
any legal process. In 1022 it was even decreed that from the beginning 
of Advent till Epiphany nobody was to marry.^ 

In the beginning of the seventh century the Calends of November 
received a new ecclesiastical significance. About the year 608 the 
Pantheon of Rome, which until then had been devoted to the service of 
all Roman gods, was by Boniface IV. dedicated in honour of ''the holy 
Mother of God, and of all Saints;" and it was ordained that a com- 
memoration of them should be observed during the Kalends of November.* 
This feast was received through all Gaul by the authority of the Emperor, 
Louis the Pious (a.d. 835).* In 694 the seventeenth Council of Toledo 
extended the litanies, which so far had been held twice a year — in May 

^ " Ut a feria sancti MarliDi usque ad Natalc Domini, secunda, quarta, et sexta sabbali 
jejunetur, et sacrificia quadragesimali debeant ordine celebrari '* (Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 
1714, Vol. III., col. 451). 

' Pfiumenschmid, Germanische EmiefesU^ p. 514, Hefele, IV., 565, 564, 640. 

' Alcuin, De Dhnno Officio, 

^ Sigeberti Gemblacensis, Chronicon ab anno 381 ad 11131 under a.d. 835: "Monente 
Gregorio papa et omnibus episcopis assentientibus Ludouicus imperator statuit ut in Gallia 
et Germania festiuitas omnium sanctorum in Calen. Nouemb. celebraretur, quam Romani 
ex instituto Bonifadj papae celebrant.*' 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



54 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



and in November — over the whole twelve months of the year, at the same 
time specifying the reasons for the change.^ 

If proof were requisite that the Rogation Days took the place of a most 
important Germanic festival, it would be supplied by the descriptfon of 
their celebration given by the Council of Cloveshou, II., a.d. 747, in the 
canons of which games, horseraces, and extensive dinners were named as 
the characteristics of that tide.^ In the ninth and tenth centuries these 
regulations were more than once repeated by Councils and S)mods.^ 



^Ac^a Conciliorum, Parisiis, 1 7 14, Vol. III., col. 181 5, Concilium ToUtanum, XVll, , 
vi. : '* Quamquam priscorum patrum institutio, per totum annum, per singulorum mensium 
cursum, litanianim vota decreverit persolvendum, nee tamen specialiter sanxerit pro quibus 
causis idipsum sit peragendum : tamen, quia cooperante humani generis adversario, multa 
inolevit oberrandi consuetudo, et jurisjurandi transgressio ; ideo secundum evangelistam, 
qui ait : Vigilate et orait^ tu intretis in teniaiionem ; in commune statuentes decemimus, 
ut deinceps per totum annum, in cunctis duodecim mensibus, per universas Hispaniae et 
Galliarum provincias, pro statu ecclesiae Dei, pro incolumitate prindpis nostri, atque 
salvatione populi, et indulgentia totius peccati, et a cunctorum fidelium cordibus expulsione 
diaboli, exhomologeses votis gliscentibus celebrentur : quatenus dum generalem omnipotens 
Dominus afflictionem perspexerit, et delictis omnibus miseratus indulgeat, et saevientis 
diaboli incitamenta ab animis omnium procul efHciat." 

^Acta ConcUiorum^ Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., col. 1956, Concilium Cloveshoviae^ II., 
A.D. 747, xvi. : '* Sextodecimo condixerunt capitulo, ut litaniae, id est, rogationes, a clero 
omnique populo his diebus cum magna reverentia agantur : id est, die septimo Kalendarum 
Maiarum [this date must mean May 7], juxta ritum Romanae ecclesiae : quae et litania 
major apud eam vocatur. Et item quoque, secundum morem priorum nostrorum, dies ante 
ascensionem Domini in coelos cum jejunio usque ad horam nonam, et missarum celebratione 
venerentur ; non admixtb vanitatibus, uti mos est plurimis, vel negligentibus, vel imperitis : 
id est, in ludis, et equorum cursibus, et epulis majoribus : sed magis cum timore et tremore, 
signo passionis Christi, nostraeque aetemae redemptionis, et reliquiis sanctorum ejus coram 
portatis, omnis populus genu flectendo divinam pro delictis humiliter exorat indulgentiam." 

^ Ada Conciliorumt Parisiis, 1714, Vol. IV., col. 1014-5, Cone-ilium Moguntiacum^ 
A.D. 813, xxxiii. : '*Placuit nobis, ut litania maior observanda sit a cunctis Christianis 
diebus tribus, sicut l^endo reperimus, et sicut sancti patres nostri instituerunt, non equitando, 
nee pretiosis vestibus induti, sed discalceati, cinere et cilicio induti, nisi infirmitas impedierit." 
Ibid,y Vol. IV., col. 1395, Concilium Aquisgramnse^ II., A.D. 836, x. : *'De Litania 
quoque maiore alque de Rogationibus ventilatum est : sed communi consensu ab omnibus 
electum atque decretum, juxta morem Romanum, vii. Kalendas Maii illam celebralionem, 
secundum consuetudinem nostrae ecclesiae non omittendam." Ibid.^ Vol. V., col. 456, 
Herardi Turonmsis Capitula^ A.D. 858, xciv. : "De Letania Romana vii. Kalendis Maii, 
ut rememoretur." xcv. : " De diebus R(^tionum, ut reverenter ac studiose absque turpibus 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS, AND THE DUAL DIVISION OF THE YEAR 55 

Just as the Church sanctified the older Germanic celebration of mid-May 
and raid-November by special litanies, so it took over the meetings wont 
to be held at those terms. In 578, at the Synod of Auxerre,* it was decreed 
that every year priests should meet at mid-May and abbots at November i. 
When (in 589, at the Council of Toledo) it was resolved that the Synods, 
instead of meeting twice a year (on mid-May and November i), were to 
meet only once, November i was fixed for that meeting ^ — a date observed 
for more than a century.* 

Not before a.d. 755 were these terms superseded by March i and 
October i,^ but even after the middle of the ninth century the annual 
meetings of the priests of the Church were held in the beginning of 
November.** In Great Britain the Rogation Days were, under the name of 

jods et verbis celebrentur. Ut nullus in eis prandia, comessationes diversasque potiones 
per diversa loca £icere praesumat." Ibid,^ Vol. VI., i., col. 606, Concilium Engilenheimense^ 
A.D. 948, vii. : " Ut litania majore jejunium, sicut in Rogationibus ante Ascensionem 
Domini exerceatur." 

^ Ada Coftciliorum, Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 444, Synodus Auiissiodorensisy Canon 
vii. : *' Ut medio Maio omnes presbyteri ad synodum in civitatem veniant, et Kalendis 
Novembris omnes abbates ad concilium conveniant." 

^ Acta Conciliorumy Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., col. 482, Concilium ToUtanum^ III., 
A.D. 589, x\'iii. : "Praedpit haec sancta et veneranda synodus, ut stante priorum 
auctoritate canonum, quae bis in anno praecipit congregari concilia, consulta itineris 
longitudine, et paupertate ecclesiarum Hispaniae, semel in anno in locum quern 
metropolitanus el^erit episcopi congregentur : judices vero loconim, vel actores fiscalium 
patrimoniorum, ex decreto gloriosissimi domini nostri simul cum sacerdotali concilio, 
autumnali tempore, die Kalendarum Novembrium in unum conveniant." 

'The decree was repeated at another Council of Toledo in 681. Ada Conciliorum, 
Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 1725, Concilium 7'oUtanum, XII., a.d. 681, xii. : ** Placuit 
huic venerando concilio, ut juxta priorum canonum instituta, episcopi singularum 
provinciarum annis singulis in unaquaque provincia Kalendis Novembribus concilium 
celebraturi conveniant. Quisquis autem in praedictis Kalendis Novembribus pro 
cdebratione synodi venire distulerit, excommunicationi debitae subjacebit" 

*Ada Conciliorumy Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., col. 1995, Concilium Veronmse, A.D. 755, 
iv. : ** Ut bis in anno synodus fiat. Prima synodus mense primo, quod est Martiis 
Kalendis, ubicumque domnus rex jusserit, in ejus praesentia. Secunda synodus Kalendis 
Octobris, aut ad Suessiones, aut alibi, uti in Martiis Kalendis inter ipsos episcopos convenit" 

^Ada Conciliorumy Parisiis, 1 7 14, Vol. V., col. 391, Hincmari Archiepiscopi Remensis 
CapihUc^ A.D. 852, i. : " Anno DCCCLII. Kalendis Novembris, conventu habito 
presbytorum in metropoli civitate Remorum," etc. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



56 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Gangdagas^ as popular as on the cohtinent, they being one of the great 
tides of the year by which people computed time. 

In the Parker ms. (A) of the Saxon Chronicle^ in the same year in which 
Martinmas appears for the first time (a.d. 913), there are also found the 
Rogation Days : betweox gangdagum and nuddum sumera. They are held 
to be fixed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the Ascension week, 
and appear once more in 921 to gangdagum ^ and in 922 betweox gangdagum 
and middan sumera,^ In the other group of chronicles represented by the 
Laud MS. (E), the entry of 913 a.d. is the same, whilst the next two 
are lackmg. Then the Rogation Days appear in 1016.^ 

The term denoting at once the beginning of the Germanic year, and of 
the winter season, varies firom the Calends of November to mid-November, 
thus keeping clearly within the time which had to be assumed as the 
beginning of the old Germanic liuleis tide.' 

^ The only similar term other than Martinmas and gangdagas appearing is hlaffnassa^ 
the later Lammas ; it is the first of August, Sti Petri ad vincula (Augusti), frequently 
abbreviated a3 Gu/a Augusti^ which, of course, has nothing to do with gula (the throat 
or palate), but is merely a mutilation of vincula, C and g are fiequently interchanged ; 
comp. GumpUte for Completa ; Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des dmtschen Mittelalters^ L, 
p. 78, where the current mistaken explanation of Gula Augusti is also found. Lammas 
appears in 921 {betwix hlafmassan and middum sumera) \ whilst in the little interpolation 
of later date in B and C, which is styled by Earle Th€ Annals of AUhtlflady it occurs 
as early as 913 and 917 {thas faran to hlafmassan 2xA foran to hUBfmassan respectively). 
It seems to have been the term dividing the economic summer- tide, instead of July 15. 

^ Hlaftnassa appears in 917, in 1085, in iioo, in iioi, and 1 135, whilst one dage ar 
sanctes Petres massan afene and on sanctes Petres massa dag are mentioned in 1048, 
1131, 1132. 

^ It is a mere exception when the term is shifted back as far as October 18. In the 
thirteenth century it was in the south of England usual and right that plough beasts should 
be in the stall between the feast of St. Luke (October 18) and the feast of the Holy Cross (on 
May 3), five-and-twenty weeks (Walter of Henley's Husbandry, ed. by Elizabeth Lamond, 
London, 1890, p. 13 : "Custume est edreyt ke bestes des charues seyent a la creche entre 
la feste de seynt luc e la feste de la seyt croys en may par vint e cynk semeynes "). At the 
same time sheep were kept in houses between Martinmas and Easter {Ibid,^ p. 31 : " Veet 
ke vos berbyz seyent en mesun entre la seynt martjm e pasche ")• Even in these five-and- 
twenty weeks the wintry half of the year is clearly recognisable. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER VI. 



MARTINMAS AND MICHAELMAS. 



In Professor Weinhold's opinion Michaelmas is an older term and festival 
than Martinmas — a view not tenable for a moment, as he easily might have 
seen himself. For, in the text of his book on the division of the German 
year,^ he says that the four not-ordered law courts, mentioned in some legal 
documents, are Michaelmas or Martinmas, Epiphany, Easter, John Baptist's 
Day; and when, in the apparatus,* he has to give the proof, he instances 
seven cases, in five of which Martinmas appears, whilst no other occurs 
so often, and Michaelmas and John Baptist's Day only in two. If any 
generalisation is to be gathered from these facts, it is that, even when the 
Roman quartering had superseded the Germanic tri-partition of the year, 
for a long time Martinmas by far prevailed over Michaelmas. He further 
talks' of all kinds of usages and customs having been transferred from 
Michaelmas to Martinmas, without giving a single historical instance of such 
a transference ; nay, even without attempting any proof of the assertion that 
they were found earlier at Michaelmas than at Martinmas. The fact is that, 
after eighteen hundred years of effort to force upon the Germanics the 
quartering of the year and a beginning of the winter on September 29, the 
attempt has succeeded so little, that up to this day Martinmas has in many 
places, preserved its character as the popular beginning of the winter. 
Grotefend* shares the view of a shifting of the beginning of winter from 

* Dber du deuische Jahrttilung, Kiel, 1862, p. 10. ^Ibid,-, p. 19. ^ Ibid,, p. 5. 

^Zeiirechnung des dnUschen MittelalUrs, 1891, I., 89, Jahresteiten, 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



58 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

September 29 to November 1 1, and adds to it an imaginary shifting of the 
beginning of summer from April or Easter to the middle of May, whilst in 
reality the middle of November and the middle of May are the most ancient 
Germanic terms, and in Scandinavia (as Weinhold and Grotefend know very 
well) a shifting by one full month has taken place, so that October 14 and 
April 14 divide the year. 

In the Saxon Chronicle Martinmas appears first in 913, Michaelmas first 
in 1 014; but after io66 the mentions of the latter quickly outnumber those 
of the former. From the Parker ms. of the Saxon Chronicle Martinmas 
appears to have existed long before Michaelmas. We have in 913 ymb 
Mar tines maessan, in 918 and gig /oran to Martines massan, in 921 thas 
ikan geres foran to Martines mcessan^ whilst Michaelmas does not occur a 
single time ; in the Laud ms.^ things are a little different. Its oldest part 
was written in the tenth century, so that it is quite irrelevant that under 
A.D. 759 appears a solitary to sancte Michaeles tyde. This can only be a 
dating after a later fashion. Then Martinmas is mentioned under 913, 915, 
971 (B), 1009, 1021, 1089, 1097, 1099, iioo, 1 114, whilst Michaelmas 
appears again as late as 1 01 4 (also in ms. C) ; but its occurrences become 
very frequent after 1066.2 

Nobody will deny that Dr. Heino Pfannenschmid, author of Germanische 
Erntefeste^ is the first authority on everything connected with the festivities 
held in autumn on Germanic ground. His book, though written more than 
twenty years ago, is still the best on the subject, and unparalleled by another 
book on cognate matter. By the most thorough investigation he was led 
to the conclusion that only very slight traces of a thanksgiving for the corn 
harvest can be discovered in the later Michaelmas, and that it almost 
exclusively, in Christian times, bears the character of a celebration for the 
sake of the dead and of a festival in honour of angels,^ whilst '' an abundance 



^ Two of the Saxon Chronicles parallel^ ed. by John Earle, Oxford, 1865. 

'^They are 1066, 1086, 1089, 1091, 1095, 1097 (twice), 1098, 1099, iioo, iioi, 1102, 1103, 
1 106, 1 1 19, 1 125, 1 126 (twice), 1 129 (twice). Asserius, De Rebus Gesiis /Elfredi^ Monumenta 
Historica Briiannka^ I., p. 492, has in venerabUis Martini festivitate as early as between 
886 and 893. 

8 Hannover, 1878. ^Ibid,^ p. 193. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS AND MICHAELMAS 



59 



of customs, which point to the ancient heathen autumn-festival celebrated in 
November, have clung round the festival held in honour of St Martin." 
The expression Herbstfeier (autumn-festival) is perhaps the only thing in 
this statement which might be improved upon; it should be: Festival of 
winter's beginning and summer's close.^ 

Whilst Martinmas can be proved to have been a popular festival in 578, 
when the banqueting at Martinmas eve was forbidden by the Synod of 
Auxerre, it was not before the ninth century that the Church made an 
attempt to give to the end of the third quarter of the Roman year a special 
importance by a festival — that of St. Michael and of the angels and 
guardian angels in general — called in Germany Engelweihe or Fest der Engel? 
It was the Council of Mayence of 813 which added that angel-festival to 
two others (on March 15 and on May 2).* Round this festival there 
gathered from that time a number of habits and customs, all of them 
inaugurated by certain Church practices, but becoming a little more popular 
with every century, although their popularity cannot, even so late as the 
seventeenth century, compete with that of Martinmas. Had there been 
any Germanic festival about that time which the Church thought it worth 
while to absorb and use for its own purposes, it would long before the 
ninth century have instituted some saint's day of special prominence in 
that part of the year. The payment of a tax or duty at Michaelmas cannot 
be proved before the tenth century, when the Anglo-Saxons paid the fruit- 



* When, in 1893, dealing with this matter in my book, Die Geschuhte der deutschen 
Wdhnacht^ I did not suppose that any folklorist could be un£a.miliar with the results of Dr. 
Pfiuinenschmid's book, and, consequently, endeavoured solely to supplement his arguments, 
instead of restating them and summing them up. But Professor Weinhold seems really to 
have overlooked them. Otherwise he could no longer be in favour of Michaelmas as the 
ancient Germanic festival of winter's beginning. 

'H. Pfannenschroid, Germanische Emtefeste^ p. 169; Ducange, Glossariutn under 
Festum S, Michaelisi "Est ilia dies, inquit Honorius Augustod., Lib. III., cap. 167, qua 
populus Christianus cum paganis pugnavit, et victoriam per S. Michaelem Archangelum 
obtinuit ; Cathwlphi Epistula ad Carolum Magnum^ Vol. II. ; Historia Francoptum^ p. 667; 
Beletus, c. cxxix., cliii. ; Durandus, Lib. VII., c. xii." 

^Acta Concilicrum, Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. IV„ col. 1015; Pfannenschmid, IHd.^ 
p. IJS. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



6o YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

tithe to the Church on St. Michael's day,^ and lease-rents seem not to have 
been paid in England at Michaelmas prior to the fifteenth century. The 
rent day is marked in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by the fact 
that the landlords used to invite their tenants for Michaelmas, a roast 
goose being the festive dish.^ Under King Edward IV. (1461-1483), John 
de la Hay paid to William Bameby of Lastres, in the county of Hereford, 
among other things as rent for part of his land, a goose for Michaelmas.' 
We still are able to trace the way in which the quarterly division of the 
Roman year was made popular by the Church. In England the four 
quatembers or ember days were introduced by Gregory the Great ( + 604), 
in the Prankish empire in the Statuta Bonifacii^^ and emphasised by Charle- 
magne's Capitulare of 769, chapter xi., and the Synod of Mayence of 813,^ 
whilst it is not earlier than about the year 1000 that a fast-tide is brought 
into connection with Michaelmas.^ 



* Lingard, Altertumer der angHsdcksischen Kirclu^ Aus dem Englischen iibersetzt von 
Ritter, p. 55. 

'N. Drake, Shakespeare and his Titnes, p. 165. 

' Fragmenta AnHquitcUis ; Antiettt Tenures of Landy and Jocular Customs of some 
Mannorsy by T[homas] B[lount], London, 1679, p. 8 : "Johannes de la Hay cepit de Will. 
Bameby Domino de Lastres in Com. Heref. unam parcellam terrae de tenis Dominicalibus. 
Reddend. inde per annum XX. d. et unam Aucam habilem, pro prandio Domini in Festo 
S. Michaelis Archangeli, Sectam Curiae et alia Servitia inde debita, etc. i. Paying a 
Goose fit for the Lord's dinner on Michaelmas day." 

***Doceant presbyteri populum quatuor legitima temporum jejunia observare, hoc est 
in mense Martio, Junio, Septembri et DecembrL" 

^ Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 1 7 14, Vol. IV., col. 1015; Pfannenschmid, Germanische 
Emtefeste^ 425. 

^ Acta Conciliorum, Parisiis, 1 7 14, Vol. VL, i., col. 794 ; Leges Ecclesiasticae Aethelredi 
regis circa annum 10 1 2 apud Habam conditae^ chap. ii. : ** De jejunio et feriatione trium 
dierum ante festum Michaelis," etc. "Et instituimus, ut omnis christianus, qui aetatem 
habet, jejunet tribus diebus, jejunet in pane, et aqua, et herbis crudis, ante festum Sancti 
Michaelis. £t omnis homo ad confessionem vadat, et nudis pedibus ad ecclesiam; et 
peccatis omnibus abrenunciet emendando et cessando. Et eat omnis presbyter cum populo 
suo ad processionem tribus diebus nudis pedibus, et super hoc cantet omnis presbyter 
triginta Missas, et omnis diaconus et clericus triginta psalmos : et apparetur tribus diebus 
corrodium unuscujusque sine came in cibo et potu, sicut idem comedere deberet, et 
dividatur hoc totum pauperibus. Et sit omnis servus liber ab opere illis tribus, quo melius 
jejunare possit : operetur sibimet quod vult. Hi sunt illi tres dies ; dies Lunae, dies 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS AND MICHAELMAS 6 1 

The first time that Michaelmas appears alongside Martinmas is in 813, 
in the decrees of the Council of Mayence,^ where also the birthday of John 
Baptist (June 24) and the day of Peter and Paul (June 29) appear to mark 
the ultimate quartering of the year according to solstices and equinoxes. 
In 858 the list considerably differs from that prevalent before,* but even 
then sometimes Michaelmas is not in the list, whilst the Rogation Days are.^ 

In England St. Michael's day seems not to have taken root much before 
the end of the tenth century, King Ethelred's Laws being the first collection 
of institutes to contain an ordinance for keeping it, while so far only the 
Apostle's days, the Mary's days, and Martinmas had been kept, besides the 
three great Church festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost* Some- 
times both terms appear together.^ The mentions of Michaelmas became 

Martis et dies Mercurii proximi ante festum sancti Michaelis." This ordinance bears the 
complete stamp of being a mere church invention. ^ 

"^ Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 1 7 14, Vol. IV., col. 1015, Concilium Moguntiacum^ A.D. 
813, zxxvi. : " Festos dies in anno celebrare sancimus. Hoc est, diem Dominicum Paschae, 
cum omni honore et sobrietate venerari : simili modo totam hebdomadam illam observari 
decrevimus. Diem Ascensionis Domini pleniter celebrare. Item Pentecosten similiter 
ut in Pascha. In natali apostolorum Petri et Pauli diem unum, Nativitatem sancti loannis 
Baptistae. Assumptionem sanctae Mariae, dedicationem sancti Michaelis, natalem sancti 
Remigii, sancti Martini, sancti Andreae. In Natali Domini dies quatuor, octavas Domini, 
Epiphaniam Domini, Purificationem sanctae Mariae. Et illas festivitates martyrum, vel con- 
fessorum observare decrevimus, quorum in unaquaque parochia sancta corpora requiescunt. 
Similiter etiam Dedicationem templi." 

^Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. V., col. 454, Hcrardi Turontnsis Capiiula^ 
A.D. 858, Ixi. : '*De festivitatibus anni, quae feriari debeant, id est, Natali Domini, sancti 
Stephani, sancti loannis, et Innocentium, octavas Domini, Epiphania, Purificatione sanctae 
Mariae, et Assumptione, Ascensione Domini et Pentecoste. Missa sancti loannis Baptistae, 
Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, sancti Michaelis, atque omnium sanctorum, sancti Martini, et 
sancti Andreae, et eorum, quorum corpora ac debitae venerationes in locis singulis peraguntnr." 

*Ibid,f v., col. 462, Walterii Aurelianmsis Capitula, xviii., about A.D. 85a 

^ King Ethelre^s Laws (991-1016) in Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ I., viii., p. 337, ii. 
{Ada Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. VI., i., col. 793-4, Leges Ecclesiasticae Aethelredi 
Regis t ca. a.d. 1012, ii.); and in the concluding passage vii. in p. 339: "Et reddatur 
pecunia eleemosinae hinc ad festum Sancti Michaelis, si alicubi retro sit, per plenam 
witam," etc 

"Thorpe, Ancient Laws^ I., 479, XX VI 1 1. of the Laivs of William the Conqueror \ "De 
qualibet hida in hundredo iiii. homines ad stretwarde invenientur a festo Sancti Michaelis, 
usque ad festum Sancti Martini.** 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



62 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

more frequent after the middle of the eleventh century, the time when the 
quartering of the year according to Roman custom had been effected all 
over the realm governed by the Church. From a.d. 877 the term intra 
ires menses appears in the Councils of the Church,* which shows that 
quarters of years had become the unities to be reckoned with. 

Probably the institution of a quartering term at the division between 
September and October would not have been so easy had it not had a certain 
economic basis in an important change which took place contemporaneously. 
Up to the third and fourth centuries of our era the Germanics had, for their 
livelihood, almost entirely depended upon pasture. It was only in the 
Carolingian age that the cultivation of meadows began to develop; and in 
consequence of the vast increase in produce of cattle, the continental 
Germanic tribes grew quickly in numbers. But for several centuries the 
improved cultivation of meadows for the purposes of pasture continued to 
surpass agriculture in importance, and it seems to have been not much 
before a.d. iooo that agriculture took equal rank with pasture as a means 
of livelihood. The pasture time did not end before the beginning of actual 
winter. After Martinmas it was no longer considered possible to pasture foals, 
so that before a.d. 800 it was not customary to let them be out at pasture after 
that term.' For the same length of time swine were kept in the oak forest 
in the Westphalia and Tirol of the fifteenth century.' The time in which 
no pasture was possible extends there down to the sixteenth century von St 
Martanstag bis auf mitten meien,^ 



^j4c/a dmctlt'omm, Parisiis, 1 714, VI., i, col. 185, Synodus Ravennae habUa, A.D. 
877, i., iL 

^Capitulare de VilliSy by Charlemagne: "Ut poledros nostros missa sancti Martini 
hiemale ad palatium omnimodis habeant." 

' "Op S. Remigy dach (Oct. i) in tho driven in den wolde twelff schwine vnd een beer 
vnd die Martin wieder vuith tho driven ; weer saecke die beer daer nicht mede en ist, mach 
men die schwine uthschUtten" (a.d. 1465, Speller Waldweistum^ Westphalia), Freiherrvon Low, 
Uber die Markgenossenschaften^ Heidelberg, 1829, p. 99; Piper, Beschreibung des Markenrechts 
in Westphaleny Halle, 1763, pp. 158, 159. 

^Zingerle, Tiroler Weistiimer^ III., pp. 72, 73, a.d. 1542; on the meadows which were 
the common property of the communities of Mais and Burgeis. A long list of cases from 
Tirol legal documents, which shows that Martinmas was throughout the beginning of 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MARTINMAS AND MICHAELMAS 63 

At least as regards the beginning of winter, similar conditions ruled the 
economic year of the Anglo-Saxons of the eleventh century. Just as Tirol 
documents of the fifteenth century considered the season of the year to be 
summer from mitte merzen to Martinmas,^ the Rectitudo Geburi treated the 
season of winter as from Martinmas till Easter, Martinmas being given as 
the date at which the ploughing of the fields came to an end, and the time 
between February 2 and Easter being denoted as no less busy than the 
harvest-tide.2 It is in this latter state, however, that a change is contained. 
Whilst the real pasture time does not begin^ much before mid-May, the 
field work sets in about two months earlier, though in Germany nowhere 
at the beginning of February. 

But soon enough in autumn also a change was wrought by the spreading 
of agriculture. All grain and aftermath are stored in the bams towards 

winter, is given in the apparatus to my Gtschichte der deutschm Weihnacht^ Leipzig, 1893, 
pp. 291-3. As late as the fifteenth century the tibe Herr sant Martein is addressed as 
the keeper and patron of cattle (Grimm, Deutsche Mythologies 1189). 

" Ich treip heut aus 
in unser lieben frauen haus, 
in Abrahames garten 
der lieber herr sant Martein 
der sol heut meines vihes warten." 

Karl Godeke, Deutsche Dichtung im MittelaUer^ Dresden, 187 1, p. 243-5. Hirtensegen 
from a fifteenth centuiy MS. 

^Zingerle, TiroUr Weistiinier^ IV., p. 33, A.D. 143 1, of Partschins, whilst the seven- 
teenth ccntuiy began it on April 23, and ended it on Martinmas. Zingerle, Ibid.^ III., 
p. 65, A.D. 1630, of Burgeis. 

'Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ I., 434-435, : " Rectitudines Singularum Personarum : Geburi 
consuetudines inveniuntur multimodae, et ubi sunt onerosae et ubi sunt leviores aut mediae. 
In quibusdam terris operatur opus septimanae, 1 1, dies, sic opus sicut ei dicetur per 
anni spatium, omni septimana ; et in Augusto ill. dies pro septimanali operatione, et a 
festo Candelarum ad usque Pascha in. Si averiat, non cogitur operari quamdiu equus 
eius foris moratur. Dare debet in festo Sancti Michaelis x. denarios de gablo, et Sancti 
Martini die xxiii., et sestarium ordei, et ii. gallinas. Ad Pascha i. ovem juvenem, vel ii. 
denarios. Et jacebit a festo Sancti Martini usque ad Pascha ad faldam domini sui, quotiens 
ei pertinebit. Et a termino quo primitus arabitur usque ad festum Sancti Martini arabit 
unaquaque septimana I. acram, et ipse parabit semen domini sui in horreo. Ad haec ill. 
acras precum, et duas de herbagio. Si plus indigeat herbagio, arabit proinde sicut ei 
permittatur." Here August is in the Anglo-Saxon text corresponded by hiptfest. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



64 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

the end of September. In Anglo-Saxon time August was the month of 
harvest* Except Professor Weinhold, nobody doubts any longer the late 
origin of the harvest festivals. Professor Mogk agrees with Heino Pfannen- 
schmid, author of Germanische ErnUfesie^ who maintains that Michaelmas is 
rooted in economic conditions, the existence of which the Germanics owe to 
the Romans.^ In the same degree as, in the centuries which followed, 
agriculture excelled pasture as a means of producing food, Martinmas was 
bound to decay in favour of Michaelmas, which was bound to receive ever 
new stress. But another economic force also set in, with a tendency 
destructive of a Martinmas celebration, though without anything in it to 
raise the significance of Michaelmas. In olden times it had been the most 
economical course to leave cattle, swine, sheep, and horses on the pasture 
grounds till the actual winter came, and then at once to kill all such of 
those animals as could not be kept over the winter. Thus, in the first half 
of November, a great killing time for the domestic animals had begun, 
which was apparently distinguished by the festival at the beginning of 
winter. With the improvement which took place in the cultivation of 
meadows in the Carolingian age, the quantity of hay produced annually 



^This appears plainly from Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ I., 432-33: ** Rectitudines Singu- 
larum Personarum : Cot-setle rectum est juxta quod in terra constitutum est. A pud 
quosdam debet omni die Lunae, per anni spatium, operari domino suo, et tribus diebus 
unaquaque septimana in Augusto. Apud quosdam, operatur per totum Augustum, omni 
die, et unam acram avenae metit pro diurnale opere.*' The word corresponding to August 
in the Anglo-Saxon text of this Rectitudo is again harfest : ** Kote-setlan riht. be dham dhe 
on lande stent. On sumon he sceal selce Mon-daege ofer geares fyrst his laforde wyrcan. 
odhdh III. dagar selcre wucan on hserfest ne dhearf he land-gafol syllan." When Jacob 
Grimm explains evenmani (September) as meaning oats*month (from Latin hcevcna^ 
Geschichte der deutschm Sprache^ 1848, I., p. 87), he is probably wrong, for oats were 
reaped before September. The term, which is of very late origin, is rather to be put 
beside even-naht (equinox), and means the month of equinox on Frisian ground. So is 
Grotefend wrong {Zeitrechnung, I. , p. 54). From the quotations given there it is apparent 
that the term Evenmaend is confined to the Nether-Rhine up to Cologne. 

***Auch auf deutschem Boden scheinen wir noch Uberreste dieser alten Sommer- und 
Herbstopfer zu haben : jener in der Hagelfeier, dem Johannisopfer, an dem es besonders 
gait, Menschen, Vieh und Erzeugnisse des Bodens vor bosen Geistem zu schUtzen, dieser 
in den Emtefesten oder den Martinsschmausen, doch sind die Nachrichten auf diesem 
Gebiete mit Vorsicht ftlr altgermanischen Kult zu verwerten, da sie in Kulturverhaltnissen 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MARTINMAS AND MICHAELMAS 



65 



was increased, and consequently it was no longer necessary to slaughter at 
once all the domestic animals designed for food. They could now in 
part be kept for some time in the stable, and fattened whilst they did not 
move about very much. Thus the great killing time slowly advanced further 
into winter — to St Andrew's day (November 30)* or St Nicolas day 
(December $).* 
f So late as the time of King David I. of Scotland (1124-1153) the 

(usual time of slaughter for cattle, swine, and sheep was from Martinmas 
till Christmas, and these forty-four days were in legal language called 
"tyme of slauchter."' Almost contemporaneously a pig appeared as a duty 

Dire Wurzel haben, die wir hauptsachlich den Romern verdanken" {Mythologies 1 127, in 
Paul's Grundriss der gennanischen Philologie^ Strassbuig, 1 89 1, Vol. I.). This argument 
does not, however, hold good for the Martinssckmause ; for the impossibility to pasture 
cattle, sheep, and horses beyond Martinmas is much older than the Roman influence upon 
the Germanics is. 

'A St. Andrew's feast is mentioned e,g. by Melchior Goldast of Haiminsfeld, Rerum 
Alamannicarum Scriptora Aliquot Vetusti^ Francofurti, 1661, I., p. 97, in Ephemerides 
Monasterii S, Gallii **Andreae Apostoli. Eodem festo dat Hospitarius x. fercula, scilicet 
bis cames, bis pisces, bis caseos, bis ova, duos ciatos, et unum stuopum, maximum leibonem, 
et minorem leibunculum, et in vespera stuopum, lunulas et oblatas de LinkinwiUer." 

•Thorpe, Ancient Laws^ Im 4^1* ^g^^ Rfgis Edwardi Confessoris (1042-1066): **De 
Ocdsionibus Animaliura contra natale. xxxix. Cum aatem dictum est, quod non emerent 
animalia praeter plegios, clamaverunt macecrarii, quos Angli vocant fleismangeres, de 
dvitatibus et burgis, quod quaque die oportebat eos emere animalia, occidere et vendere 
[L. add : nam in occisione animalium erat vita eorum]. Clamabant etiam dves et burgenses 
pro consuetudinibus suis, quod circa festum Sancti Martini emebant animalia [L. instead : 
consueverant animalia in foro mercari] sine plegiis, ad £eunendas suas ocdsiones contra 
Natale Domini, quas consuetudines justas et sapienter ductas non auferimus eis, tamen in 
mercatis emptis cum testibus et cognidone venditorum." As to the masting of swine and 
the varying thickness of their fet, compare the Laws of King Ine in Thorpe's Ancient Laws 
and Institutes of England, I., p. 133 (xlix.), where different fines are prescribed for taking 
forbidden mast, according to the thickness of the &t of the swine. There were rules laid 
down for the swine-herd, how many swine of each class had to be slaughtered every year 
(Thorpe, Ancient Ltnvs^ I., pp. 436 437 : '* Gafolswane, id est, ad censura porcario, 
pertinet, ut suam occisionem det secundum quod in patria statutum est. In multis locis 
Stat, ut det singulis annis xv. porcos ad occisionem, x. veteres et v. juvenes ; ipse autem 
habeat super-augmentum "), though the exact time of killing the swine is not stated in 
any Rectitude of the Anglo-Saxon period. 

^ Leges Burgorum Scocie, or Leges et Consuetudines Quatuor Burgorum Berermc 
RoHshurg Edinburg et Strtvelin, constitute edite ac confirmate per Regent Daidd^ titulo 

£ 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



66 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

to be paid at Christmas in Germany,* which, of course, meant that it was 
to be killed at once. 

In Scotland Martinmas was, so late as 1800, "the term at which beeves 
are usually killed for winter." This was "commonly called Martlemas in 
England, whence the phrase mentioned by Serenius,^ * Martlemas beef.* "^ 
Brand's Popular Antiquities^ tell of a litde later time : " Two or more of the 
poorer sort of rustic families still join in purchasing a cow, etc., for slaughter 
at the time (called in Northumberland a Mart), the entrails of which, after 
having been filled with a kind of pudding meat consisting of blood, suet, 
groats, etc, are formed into little sausage links, boiled, and sent about as 
presents, etc. From their appearance they are called Black Puddings." 
Jamieson* mentions that the Black Puddings were, at the beginning of our 

LXiv. De Officio Camificum (in The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland y Vol. I., A.D. 
1 124 to 1423 ; 1844, p. 346) : 

LXIV. " De Officio Carnificum " Of Fleschewaris in the Burgh 

**Quicunque cames vendere voluerit **Quha that wyl sell flesche he sal sell 

vendat bonas carnes scilicet bovinas ovinas gude flesche beyff muttone and pork eftir 

et porcinas et vendat secundum considera- the ordinans of gud men of the toune and 

cionem proborum hominum ville et ponat he sal sett his flesche opynly in his wyndow 

eas in fenestra sua ut sint communes omni- that it be sene communly till al men that 

bus emere volentibus Camifices vero will tharof And fleschewaris forsuth sal 

servient burgensibus tempore ocdsionis serve the burges in t3nne of slauchter that 

scilicet a festo sancti Martini usque ad is to say fra the fest of sayncte Martyne 

natale Domini de camibus suis preparandis quhil yhule of the flesche in thar lardyner 

et confidendis in lardariis Si vero carnes to be graythit and dycht And gif the 

male preparentur camifex restituet ei fleschewar graythis ivil flesche he sal restor 

dampnum suum cuius erant animalia hym the scathis that aw the bestys And 

Camiflces dum serviunt burgensibus come- the fleschewaris quhilis thai serve thaim 

dent ad mensam illorum scilicet cum thai sal ete at thair burde wyth thair ser- 

servientibus eorum Et habebunt pro uno vandis And thai sal hafe for a cow or ane 

marto obolum pro quinque ovibus obulum ox a halpeny and for v shepe a halpeny 

pro uno porco obulum " and for a swyne a halpeny " 

* Grimm, Deutsche RechisaltertUmer^ V., 537, Baubach, Lower Alsace, a.d. 1143, 
§ 5 : *' Ipse villicus mansum cum omnibus iustitiis habebit, porro in natale domini curiam 
visitabit, 12 panes, 4 sextaria vini et unum porcum, quem pascalem vocant, apportabit." 

'^English and Swedish Dictionary^ Nykoping, 1757. 

*Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language ^ under "Mart." 

^P. 355- ^Jfnd. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



MARTINMAS AND MICHAELMAS 67 

century, as they still are, an appendage of the Mart in Scotland. They 
were made of blood, suet, onions, pepper, and a little oatmeal.^ A cow or 
ox which was fattened, killed, and salted for winter provision was at least 
from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century in Scotland called a Mart 
(Gaelic = cow), Marte, or Mairt} 

The sculptured capitals of the choir-pillars of Carlisle Cathedral present a 
probably unrivalled fourteenth century series of figures, depicting the occu- 
pations of the seasons.^ While June is there described as the month of 
hunting with a hawk, and July as the time of mowing with a scythe, the 
representative of August, holding in one hand a crutch and in the other a 
weed-hook, is cutting off with the latter the thick succulent stalk of a thistle- 
leaf which borders the opening ; and it is September which is denoted as 
the month of grain-harvest, its symbol being a man in a field of wheat, 
holding a handful in his right hand, and cutting it with a sickle in his left. 
October is the tide of grape-harvest, the bunch of grapes in the left hand. 



*The eighteenth century song says: 

** It fell about the Martinmas time, 
And a gay time it was than. 
When our gudewife got puddings to mak*, 
And she boird them in the pan." 
{.The Songs of Scotland chronologically arranged, London, 2nd ed., p. 158 ; **Get up and 
bar the door," from Herd's Collection). 

* Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language^ under * * Marl. '* He gives the 
following instances: "Of fleshers being burgesses, and slaying mairts with their awin hands" 
{Chalmerlan Air, c 39, s. 68). "That all — martis, muttoun, pultrie, — that war in the 
handis of his Progenitouris and Father — cum to our Souerane Lord, to the honorabill 
sustentation of his hous and nobill estate" (Acts of James IV., 1489, c. 24, edit. 1566; 
Skene, Laws and Acts of Parliament, Fol., Edin., 1597, c. 10). "In 1565, the rents 
were £2.(>Z 19s. 2d. sterling, — 60 marts or fat beeves, 162 sheep," etc. {Statistical Account, 
v., 4). The same word is also used metaphorically to denote those who are pampered 
with ease and prosperity: "As for the fed Marts of this warlde, the Lord in his righteous 
judgement, hes appoynted them for slaughter" (Bruce's Eleven Sermons, 1 591, A. 4 a., 
Jamieson, Ibid,), There can be no doubt that this Celtic word A/art = cow was very 
early brought into connection with Martinmas. 

' Described by James Fowler in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland 
Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, IV., p. 280, which description is extracted in R. S. 
Ferguson's Guide to Carlisle, Carlisle, 1890, pp. 45-46. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



68 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

the hooked knife in the right hand of the vinenlresser, and the basket 
upon the ground by his side denoting it as such. It is November and 
December which bring in the domestic animals. The emblem of November 
is a man in boots, sowing com broadcast with his right hand out of a 
wicker basket hanging at his left side, suspended by a strap from his right 
shoulder. Oak-leaves and acorns are on the bell of the western member 
of this capital ; on the eastern member of the next capital is seen a swine- 
herd in the midst of oak-leaves and acorns tending a herd of swine feeding, one 
of the swine having its head raised as if to catch a falling acorn. December 
is a man with an axe grasped by the handle in both hands, raised, and with 
the back of it about to fall on the forehead of an ox, which is held fast 
by its horns by a man, in similar costume to the first, standing behind it 
January is the time of gay drinking, its representative having three smooth 
unbearded faces under one skull cap, drinking by the right and left mouths 
out of shallow cups held respectively in the right hand and in the left, 
and with the central face looking impassively forward. A jug wherewith 
to replenish his cups stands on the ground at his left side. February is 
nothing but the month of cold and wet weather ; March digs up the ground 
round still leafless trees; April, with a crooked knife, cuts dry branches 
down from them ; and May is the gay month of young foliage and flowers, 
its symbol being a woman holding in each hand a fleur-de-iys-^hzptd. bunch 
of sprouting foliage, and presenting them to a young man, who, by his right 
hand, takes from her the bunch in her hand. 

On the Nether Rhine, about a.d. 1400, the killing time of swine was 
about Christmas/ just as in England, a little later, December was the principal 
month of slaughter.^ In the Germany of the sixteenth century, under the 



^ Annalm des Historischen Vereins fur dm Niederrhan^ Instalment LIV., 1892, p. 12; 
Book of Expenditure of Herr von Drachmfels^ 1395, p. 21, Jan. 4, 1396, No. 56 : " I alb 
um spiskraut, I alb um eier up dat huis, doe man die verken afifdeide ; " p. 37, Nov. 29, 
1396 : " Ich haen Heynen Volrait gegen 55 m van den verken die mo jair up vur kirsnacht 
wurden gegulden." 

^ Barlholomaeus Anglicus, IX., chap. xix. (ed. 1488): **De Decembre. In hoc mense 
propter asperitatem frigoris sunt altilia et animalia domestica raultae quietis et parvi motus, 
et ideo plurimum impinguantur. Unde tunc temporis interficiuntur potissime et mactantur; 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



MARTINMAS AND MICHAELMAS 69 

influence of agricultural progress, the kUling time of pigs extended to Epiphany,^ 
and shortly afterwards to St. Anthony's Day (January 17),^ thus reaching the 
second half of January.' To February it was shifted not earlier than the 
seventeenth century, when the cultivation of potatoes had become popular 
and productive enough to keep especially swine through the greater part 



propter quod depingitur tanquam camifex qui cum securi percutit et mactat porcum suum.' 
That the slaughter b^an in November is shown by the following passage : " Of our tame 
boars we make brawn, which is a kind of meat not usually known to strangers. . . . 
With OS it is accounted a great piece of service at the table from November until 
February be ended, but chiefly in the Christmas time. With the same also we begin our 
dinners each day after other; and, because it is somewhat hard of digestion, a draught 
of malvesey, bastard, or muscadel is usually drank after it." . . . {Elizabethan England: 
from "A Description of England," by William Harrison (in Hollinshects Chronicles)^ 
edited by Lothorp Withington, with Introduction by F. J. Fumivall, London, The Scott 
Library, p. 658). 

^Lauterbach Document of 1589, Grimm, Deutsche RechtscUtertUmer^ III., 369: a young 
(Hg which had not reached maturity was led round through the benches (and, probably, 
killed afterwards). 

'Montanus, p. 17; Sebastian Franck, Weltbuch, I., p. 131; Ulrich Jahn, Deutsche 
Opfergebrauchet p. 266. 

'At the end of the sixteenth centuiy the occupations of the time of October to January 
are described in the following way : 

October. 
" Frigoribus coelum magis intractabile reddit, 
October, stabula hinc cogit adire pecus. 
Arboribus fructus adimit, spoliatque decore, 
Atque etiam cupide turbida musta bibit. 

Aliter. 
October mustum calcatis exprimit uvis 
£t serit hoc anno quae redeunte metat. 

November. 
Ligna vehit mactatque boves, et laetus ad ignem 
Ebria Martini festa November agit. 
Ad pastum in silvam porcos compellit, et ipse 
Pinguibus interea vescitur anseribus. 

Aliter, 
Autumnus quaecunque dedit, consumo November, 
Et pinguem hybema glande trucido suem. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



70 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

of the winter. This movement was, on legal ground, accompanied by a 
shifting of a great number of duties and taxes to the beginning of the 
new year, reckoned either as at Christmas or on January i, so that Michael- 
mas, Christmas, Easter, and St John's Day came to be the four great terms all 
over Europe, wherever the Roman Calendar and the Roman Church succeeded 
in uprooting the ancient Germanic tri-partition of the year.^ The economic 
evolution, more especially the prevalence of agriculture over cattle-keeping, 
thus tended to destroy the ancient Germanic mid-November celebration, 
whilst favouring both a harvest festival held earlier in the year and the 
development of a festival about the middle of the German winter. 



December. 
In nlve persequitur vestigia pressa feranim, 
Abluit et calida membra December aqua. 
Afifert Solstitium, celebrat cunabula Christi, 
Et iugulat porcos, tribula dura ferit. 

AlUer, 
Haud avis, baud fera venanti deest ulla Decembri, 
Quamvis ningat atrox et gelet usque vadum. 

Januarius. 
lanus vina bibit, ciepitantique assidet igni. 
Et pingues carnes torret, editque suem. 
Annum praeteritum claudit, reseratque futurum, 
Sed venam ferro tangere, iure vetat" 

{Ranzovii Exempla, Quidus Aetrologuae ScUntiae Certitude ConiprobcUury Coloniae, 1585, 
pp. 304, 306, 307, which latter two are there wrongly numbered 400 and 303). Another 
piece from the same time sa3rs of December : 

" Prassen will ich und leben wol, 
Eine Sau ich itzunder stechen sol." 
(Grasse, Des deutschen Landmanns PracHca^ Dresden, 1858, p. 28). 

^Michaelmas appears as a term for paying duties very frequently from the sixteenth 
century. Landesordnung dts Herzogtums Preussen von 1525, P&nnenschmid, Germanische 
Emtefeste^ p. 118; Richter, Kirchenordnungeny I., 32; Ibid^y II., 35$; HoycUsche 
Kirchenordnung von 1573, where Michaelmas is called the tnerte Hochfesttag, and put into 
parallel with Christmas, Pasch, and Whitsunday, thus clearly standing in relation to the 
Roman quartering of the year. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER VII. 



SOLSTICES AND EQUINOXES. 



Jacob Grimm, as has been shown abready, had a perfect grasp of the 
six-fold division of the year found among the Germanics at the dawn of 
history. And though he did not know that it had been borrowed from 
the Orient, and probably ultimately from Egypt, and that it was by no 
means genuine and common Aryan property, yet he did not fail to see 
how deep-rooted it was in the legal, cultural, and economic conditions of 
our ancestors. It is a very strange fact that he should have thought a 
knowledge of two solstices and two equinoxes, together with a quartering 
of the year, reconcilable with the conclusions as to the Aryan year in 
general, which of necessity must be drawn from a six-fold division. Had 
he been aware that these two ways of looking at the course of the year 
were mutually exclusive, he would have been led to a further examination 
of each, and then would have found that a cognizance of solstices and 
equinoxes must be denied to the early Aryans, as well as to the Germanics 
before their acquaintance with the Roman calendar; that the quartering of 
the year is of purely Roman origin, and is not found elsewhere ; that there 
is no historical evidence whatever for a celebration of solstices and 
equinoxes among the Germanics in their pre-Roman time; that philology 
and folklore, the history of the Christian Church, and the history of agri- 
culture all point to a three-fold partition of the year with the beginning 
about the middle of November. It was Jacob Grimm's way to regard 
oiur ancient ancestors as speculative philosophers who stood aloof from the 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



72 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Struggle for existence, and who shaped their yearly course according to 
their own fancies and their belief in gods; and he failed to see that it is 
the economic conditions which, in primeval times, as they do in our own, 
fixed all the more important features of daily and yearly life, leaving only 
a very limited realm to a manifestation of personal likes and dislikes; nay, 
that that realm gets smaller and smaller every step we go further back 
into the past. 

Jacob Grimm was a king in his kingdom of Germanic philology, and 
even where he stumbled on his royal road, he could not help indicating 
the way to walk safely. But what about those who followed his route? 
Was it not strange that they should think his stumbles worthy, above 
all, of imitation, that they should altogether n^lect his useful hints and 
the material gathered by him which pointed in the right direction? It 
looks like a joke in the history of Germanic antiquarian studies, that the 
man who after Grimm made this subject his special study, and devoted 
years to it, should have wasted all his energy in the attempt to prove that 
the Germanics in pre-Roman times had exactly the same year as the 
Romans; that they, therefore, had nothing to get from them, and rejoiced 
in quartering their year and celebrating imaginary solstices and equinoxes.^ 

The observation of the change of cold in winter and heat in summer 
is one thing, that of the movement of the rising-point of the sun on the 
horizon is another. If some peoples of antiquity sought to find a causal 
connection between the two things, that connection was hopelessly wrong, 
the proper relation of the two lines of observation having been known 
only since Copernicus, />., since the sixteenth century. That primitive 
people were bound to connect them is by no means true, and it is more 
than doubtful whether the next thing would be to observe so-called solstices 
and equinoxes. The fixing of the date at which day and night are exactly 
equal lacks entirely in economic interest and significance, and certainly 
never affected the minds of primitive peoples. The observation of so-called 



^So even Heino Pfannenschmid seems to think when he explains his theoiy of the 
Germanic year in his otherwise excellent book on Germanische Emtefeste im heidmschen 
und christlichen Cultus (Hannover, 1878, pp. 16 s^ and 326 ss). 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SOLSTICES AND EQUINOXES 73 

solstices, on the other hand, is extremely difficult Whilst in autumn and 
spring the rising-point of the sun visibly shifts from day to day, it scarcely 
shifts at all from the beginning of December to the middle of January, 
and from the beginning of June to the middle of July. Even the 
astronomers whom Caesar had at his disposal were not able to fix the 
solstices and equi-^-^^"" actually; and although he ordered the winter sol- 
stice to take place ecember 25, and the summer solstice on June 24, 
they persistently and obstinately disobeyed — the winter solstice making a 
point of taking place on December 23, a.d. i ; on December 22, a.d. ioi; 
on December 21, a.d. 201; on December 20, a.d. 301; on December 19, 
A.D. 401; on December 18, a.d. 601; on December 17, a.d. 801; and so 
on; so that in 1501 it was wicked enough to take place on December 12. 
The spring equinox and autumnal equinox apparently shared the delight 
in moving backward by eighteen hours a century, and shifted in the same 
degree away from March 21 and September 22. 

It was not earlier than at their close contact with the Romans that the 
Germanics became acquainted (as with other Roman institutions) with sol- 
stices and equinoxes,^ although not with their true astronomical dates, but 
with the pseudo-equinoxes and solstices of the Julian calendar, to which 
their wise men faithfully stuck for a millenium, whilst popular tradition 
knew nothing of these foreign-made goods. Nevertheless these innovations 
brought the ancient Germanics face to face with a task which may be 
called philological. They were compelled to create new words for the 
new conceptions with which they were made familiar, and they chose the 
simplest way that offered, by merely translating the Latin terms. But not 
all tribes fulfilling that task in the same way, there arose considerable 
divergence in the expressions used, frorj which divergence even now we 
can see that the Germanics had no ancient common word for them, such 
as they had for winter and summer. Nay, they even took over the 
particular limitations with which the Latin expression solsticium was used. 
SolsHcium is in Latin, with a few late exceptions, exclusively used for the 

^Kuhn's article in Zacher*s Zeitsckrift fur deutsche Philolcgie, 1868, I., 118, is not to 
be taken seriously, at least so fiir as the Germanics are concerned. He fails to give any 
proof for their knowledge of a solar year with solstices and equinoxes. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



74 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

summer solstice. How well aware the Roman mind was of that appears 
from the fact that the adjective solsticialis refers, even in late Latin, 
exclusively to summer and the middle of it, and is used as the contrary 
of brumalis. The name for the shortest day of the year was simply bruma 
(supposed to be a contraction of brevissima \dies^^ which also meant the 
whole of winter. Germany herself has evolved four words for solstice, all 
four of which apply to the summer solstice alone: sunwende, sungiht^ 
sunstede, and sommertag, Grotefend,^ who maintains that by solstidum 
without an additional qualification the summer solstice is, in most cases, 
meant, is unable to give even a single instance from a medieval document 
in which a winter solstice occurs, and (although he heads his paragraph 
Solstidum estivale, brumale) gives examples solely of solstidum estivale. In 
another paragraph, however,* he quite properly remarks that the whole of 
the following expressions: sonnwenden^ sonnabenden^ sonnenbenttag^ sunn- 
benden^ sunnewenttag^ sunibentag^ sunwende^ sunnstede^ sungichten^ sungicht^ 
suniichy apply to the summer solstice alone. This amoimts to the fact, 
that no medieval instance is known of December 25, or any of the days 
about it, having ever been called solstice in the German language: nay, 
that there is no medieval word wintersonnwende or the like, the corre- 
sponding term in New-High-German being of quite modern growth. 
Wherever the word sunnewtnde occurs in the Middle-High-German poetry 
of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there is no doubt that it can apply 
to the summer solstice solely. No poet or writer of prose thinks of adding 
any adjective to make that clear.^ Sonnenwende is turning of the sun; 
sungicht is walk of the sun ; and sunstede is standing of the sun — three 
quite different things. These terms do not occur all over Germany, but 
are restricted to several dialects. So sunstede is exclusively Frisian, at least 



^ Zeitrechnung des ditUschen MUielalters, 189 1, I., p. 178. 

^ Zeitrechnung des detUschen Mittelalierst I., p. 181. 

'"Hiute ist der ahte tac nftch sunewenden," Iwein, 114; **re einen sunewenden," 
Nibekmgenlied^ 32, 4, and Lachinann's Nibdungm Not^ 2023, i ; **vor disen sunwenden," 
Ibid^ 678, 3; 694, 3; **zen naehsten sunwendto,'' Ibid.^ 1352, 4; 1424, 4; Wigahis^ 
1 717; "an sunwenden dbend," Nibeiungm Noty 1754, 3; **«e sunewenden," Tristan, 5987 ; 
*'Sant Johans sunewenden uc," Ls., 2, 708. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SOLSTICES AND EQUINOXES 75 

as far as the continent is concerned, for it also occurs in Anglo-Saxon, thus 

appearing to be an Anglo-Frisian term.^ From this we may conclude that 

the Germanics became acquainted with the Roman summer solstice at a 

time when the Western Germanics -hiad already sq>arated into Germans 

and Anglo-Frisians, but before'^tfie^ community of speech b^t^jreep Anf^ 

and Frisians is*the more likely, as -Frisian/Tand 

English have ;ord:.?for the same notion: Frisian 

sumerdey^ Enj : sommertag for solstice is^poradic in 

German. Tl tters among the Western Germanics, 

nobody will Northern Germanic tribes evolved 

almost each 2 w could it have been otherwise, since 

they were n( limmer sokticeu^ntil after they had 

settled in th< th ! Thus Danish h^ SolkverVy or 

throwing of t nierri, timeJ-i^^derived Vintersolhvers- 

fesien, Non vet^iyzxiA. »S!7/>fe(P;5rt't]iyith ' the modern 

derivatives *S rsojkv^rv. , But Syredish has Solst<m^d 

with the mo< :«^, and Icelandic * has 5!^/f/i7dr«r yilh 

the modem derivative Vetrarsblstodur, -^ - ' ,;, ^ /., . *.. - 

In German Ae word sonnwehde (solstice), though* rlever us^d for winter 

solstice, is sometimes us6<L for equinox^ so that Gfermany can boiEist of 

having three solstices,- ' whiqji sj^e certainly dfeseryes on account of- her 

ancient three seasons.^ In Flajmers the equinoxes are called summer day 

(March 17) and winter day (S^tember 21),* whilst in Frisian and English 



^ It is found, €,g.y in .an Anglo-Saxon treatise on astrmiomy based fntireiy on Beda's 
work, De Ratione Temporum : Thomas Wright, Popular Treatises on Science written 
during the Middle Age&in Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, and English, London, mdcccxli., 
Historical Society of Science Publication, pp. 8, 9: '* Aestas is suincu^se h^dh simn-stede; 
hiems is winter, se hsefdh otheme sunn-stede." '^ '"^ /. 

'Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des deutschen Mittelalters^ \%^\y I., p. 178. 

'"Sonnwende der ander in der vasten," Grotcfend, Zeitrechnung^ 1891, I., 181. 
Grotefend maintains the same usage to have existed among the Frisians, Ibid,^ I., 189: 
"A sunna ewenda bifara sente Liudgeris dei" (Richthofen, Friesische Rechtsquellen, 169); 
but I should be rather inclined to think that we have there to do with Saturday instead 
of equinox. 

^Grotefend, Zeitrechnung, 1891, I., p. 178. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



76 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

summer day means summer solstice. In Middle-High-German the literal 
translation of equinox (ebennahi) is very rare and very late, so that it 
almost seems to have been borrowed from Frisian.^ At any rate it never 
was a popular date or an early term. It is not before the fifteenth 
century that the equinox is used for dating documents, and even then it 
is supplemented by other things.^ The complicated expression Tag und 
Nachigleiche^ which bears the stamp of artificial manufacture, is of quite 
modem origin. Frisian and English evolve a little earlier than German 
their common term for equinox, A.S. evenniht or emnihtef Frisian evennaht.^ 
Among the Northern Germanics the term is exceedingly rare and very 
late. Modem Icelandic has jafn-dcegur and jafn-dagriy equal days ; Modem 
Danish has ^cevndogn\ Modem Norw^an has jafndcegri^ jevndogn, and 
jafnfUBtti, 

If we knew nothing about the actual division of the Crermanic year, it 
would, on the authority of these philological facts, be safe to assume that 
the ancient Germanics did not base their seasons and tides on solstices 
and equinoxes. There was once a theory aurent according to which 
everything — myth, cult, custom — ^was traced back to an allied sun worship 
or observations of the events visible in the sky, such as the rising of the 
sun, the hiding of the sun behind clouds, and the shifting of the rising- 
point of the sun on the horizon. But, as r^ards Germanic tribes, that 
theory is so little applicable as to make it quite certain that among our 



' '* Der onager, in dem merzen an dem funf und zweinzigisten tage sd luot er zwelfstunt 
unde sam ofte in der naht, davon bekennet man sint, daz ebennaht belouhtet ir sunne unde 
wset ir wint," Karajan, 82, 26; MttUer und Zamcke, Mittelhochdeutsches Wdrttrhuch^ 
Leipzig, 1863, I., 301. Ibid,., "Ebennahtec, equinoxialis obent-nehtig,'* Diefenbach, 
Glossen,^ 109; " Equinoxium, ebennachtig," JHd.\ " aequinoctium ewennachtig," Mone, 
VIIL, 249. 

' ** 1402 als equenoxium was umme sunte Gregortus dge uten*' {Magdeburger Schoppen' 
chromk^ 304), Grotefiend, ZeUreckHung^ 1898, II. » 2, 194. 

'Thomas Wright, Popular Treatises on Science, London, 1841, pp. 8, 9, "Ver is 
lencten-dd, seo hsefdh emnihte ; autumnus is hserfest, the hsefdh odhre emnihte," Saxon 
Chronicle J Laud MS., E, 1048; '*to hserfestes emnihte," John Earle, Tivo rf tlu Saxon 
ChronkUs Parallel, Oxford, 1865, pp. 179, 180. 

^Richthofen, Friesisclu Ruhtsquellen, 390-392. "Letera evennaht" b the September 
equinox, Grotefend, Zeitruhnung, I., 54. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SOLSTICES AND EQUINOXES 77 

ancestors the sun was no deity. We have not only absolutely no traces 
of sun worship among the Germanic nations, but even in historical times 
the sun has been of different gender in different Germanic languages. Nay, 
different Germanic tribes even had different words for sun^ which, though 
coming from the same root, were formed with different suffixes (Gothic 
sunn^f fem., and sunna, masc. ; German Sonnet fem. ; English sun^ masc. ; 
Gothic saui'/y neut; Anglo-Saxon s^/; Old Scandinavian sd/). As to deities, 
the Germanics seem to have originally had one god only, his name being 
*Tiwaz (Greek Zw, Latin Dies-piter^ to whom in common Germanic times 
another was added, named *77ionaraZy whilst North Germany still later pro- 
duced a thirds* IVodanaZy who in the Middle Ages immigrated to Scandinavia, 
but never won the adoration of the High-German tribes. Besides, there 
was one goddess, called Fnja. At any rate we may affirm that at the 
time when, probably in the first century of our era, the Germans took over 
from the Romans the Phoenician week of seven days, and replaced their 
names by German terms which corresponded exactly to the Roman terms, 
there was not even a god to take the place of Satumus. 

Whilst the summer solstice was probably taken over directly from 
popular Roman tradition, the equinoxes seem to have become familiar to 
the clerical Germanic mind through the bearing the spring equinox had 
on the fixing of Easter, the more so because violent discussions about the 
proper time for holding Easter were going on for several centuries, and 
most seriously affected the Anglican Church. It is in connection with this 
controversy that we get our first information about our ancestors' ability to 
find the term of the spring equinox. Ceolfrid's Letter on Easter and the 
Tonsure, written circa a.d. 710,^ shows that about that time the capacity to 

' Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents^ Oxford, 187 1, III., 289 : 
"Aequinoctiuin autem, juxta sententiam omnium Orientalium, et maxime Aegyptiorum, 
qui prae ceteris doctoribus calculandi palmam tenent, duodecimo kalendarium Aprilium 
die provenire consuevit, ut etiam ipsi horologica inspectione probamus." What stress was 
laid by the Middle Ages on the coincidence of Christmas and the winter sobtice is evident 
from the hsX that the keeping up of that coincidence is given as the reason for the 
institution of the leap year. Bracton's Note Book^ ed. by F. W. Maitland, Vol. III., 
London, i887, p. 301 (fol. 196) : '' Sed hoc fit propter quandam necessitatem ad evitandam 
illud inconveniens, quod esset intemperies hiemalis in signis aestivalibus, et quia, si possit 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



78 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

fix the date of the equinoxes by observation had been attained in Great 
Britain, though several centuries elapsed after their first acquaintance with 
them before equinoxes and solstices were accepted as terms quartering a 
solar year of 365 days and a quarter. It was probably not before the 
eleventh century that this took place. The Anglo-Saxon treatise of 
astronomy, which is entirely based on Beda's De Temporum Rationed and 
on Roman views, calls the four Roman quarters of the year, which are 
halved by solstices and equinoxes, lencten-tid, sumoTy harfest^ and winter, of 
which Uncten-tidy by its very name a compound with HdCy is shown to be 
not an old term. 

Notwithstanding all these facts, Professor Weinhold goes on talking about 
Germanic solstices and equinoxes as if nothing in the world were a fact 
better established. After having wrongly fixed the terms of the dual division 
of the year at the end of September and of March, and two of the terms of 
the three-fold partition on almost the same days, he proceeds^ to declare 
that the Germanics halved their two seasons, summer and winter, and 
thus arrived, absolutely like the Romans, at four seasons (which, however, 
were no longer seasons, but broke entirely through the system of actual 
seasons). In his fanciful way he sets down the following bold guesses:^ 
" Midwinter and midsummer, Christmas and the feast of John Baptist, 
according to ecclesiastical denomination, stand out in the German year as 
very ancient high tides. Through the standing still of the sun, which, 
according to the opinion of that time, stopped in turning round to a new 

contingere quod Natale Domini celebraretur in aestate et Nadvitas B. Johannis Bapt. in 
hieme.'' This passage was in all probability written before A.D. 1256 ; Ilenrici de Bracton, 
De Legibus et Constutudinibm Angliae, Londini, 1640, Lib. V., 2, De Essaniis, foL 359** : 
'*Ille vero dies excrescens qui non est computabilis, ea ratione propter necessitatem ad 
vitandum illud inconveniens ne festum Natalis Domini celebretur in aestate et Nativitas 
Sancti Johannis Baptistae in hieme, quod contingere posset infra quingentos vel sexcentos 
annos, et etiam ita contingeret intemperies hiemalis in signis aestivalibus.'* 

* Historical Society of Science, Popular Treatises on Science written during the Middle 
Ages, ed. by Thomas Wright, London, 184 1, pp. 8, 9: **Feower tida synd ge-tealde on 
anum geare, that synd, ver, sestas, autumnus, hiems. Ver is lencten-tid, seo hsefdh 
emnihte; sestas is sumor, se hsefdh sunn-stede; autumnus is hserfest, the hsefdh odhre 
emnihte; hiems is winter, se haefdh otheme sunnstede." 

* Deutsche Jahrteilung, p. 9. ^ Ibid,^ p. 9. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



SOLSTICES AND EQUINOXES 79 

journey, the people felt themselves driven to solemn rest and the service 
of the deity of the sky which led the sun. Divination and prophecy pre- 
vailed during those tides, and with their mysterious thrill interrupted the 
noisy joy which wreathed round heathen sacrifices." Yet there is not a 
shadow of historical evidence for these fancies. The Germanics neither 
had a festival about Christmas nor about the day of John Baptist The 
Twelve-nights, of which he talks a little further on, are simply the Dode- 
kahemeron of the old Church, which existed there for centuries before they 
appeared among any Germanic tribe.^ Nay, all through the Middle Ages 
the term Sonnenwende, or solstice, has not a single time been shown to 
have been applied to December 25 : its use is absolutely restricted to 
June 24, just as the word sohticium was among the Romans. If Wein- 
hold* places the Anglo-Saxon word Itdha for June and July alongside the 
Dutch lauwe^ louwmant for January, explains them as lind and lau^ trans- 
forms these meanings to "resting," and refers that adjective to the "rest 
of the sun," which, according to popular belief, />., according to his belief, 
took place about midwinter and midsummer, one may well be doubtful 
whether that serves to strengthen the position of his own hypothesis. The 
goddesses Ostara and Hrida^ on whom he* lays much stress, he has later 
given up himself. But he still deduces from the facts that the Scandinavians 
divided their year by October 9 to 14 and April 9 to 14 (veimdtt and 
sumam&tt\ and that the Germans are shown to have had the Roman 
seasons, one of which began about October i, the conclusion that equi- 
noxes, of which the Germanics knew absolutely nothing, " divided the most 
ancient German year."* 

In his Weihnacht'Spiele und Lieder aus SuddeutsMand und Schiesien^ 
there is even a chapter headed in the index as "The Germanico-heathen 
celebration of the winter solstice," in which he gives a still more enraptur- 
ing delineation of that alleged Germanic festival, without being in the least 
disturbed by the fact that such a thing never existed. There even the 

* Compare my own book Geschichte der de%*tschen Weihnacht^ Leipzig, 1893, p. 282. 

^ Deutsche Jahrieilungf p. 14. 

'Weinhold, Deutsche Jahrteilung^ 1862, p. 15. * Ibid.^ p. 6. 

8 Wien, 1875, pp. 4, ss. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



8o YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

error occurs, that the solstice had been called July accompanied by another, 
that the. winter solstice was the banning of the Germanic year. We learn 
that that time was devoted to Wodan, and Fricke, or Holda, or Berchta 
or Hera, or Gode; that the boar (bar) led about through the village was 
not a boar at all, but a bear; that it was not the central figure of the pro- 
cession, but probably merely accidental: and we have a himdred other 
products of unscientific imagination. The description given of the holy 
Twelve-nights of the Germanics* is almost touching. That the Christmas 
fires have a close relation to the sun; that yule has etymologically to do 
with wheel \ that the Christmas tree is to be derived from Wodan; that a 
great number of the customs in use from Martinmas to Easter should 
properly be held on Christmas eve, or, at least, on the Twelve-nights ; these 
and an extensive list of other most surprising fancies can be learned fi-om 
that book. So the whole of the thirty-six pages which Professor Weinhold's 
disciple. Dr. Ulrich Jahn, in his book Die deutschen Opfergebrduche bet 
Ackerbau und Viehzucht^ devotes to the offerings about the time of the 
winter solstice, contain, in so far as they are meant to apply to pre- 
Christian times, nothing but unhistorical speculations, and would have been 
better omitted from that book, which, in various respects, may be called 
useful, and certainly represents a much more critical attitude on the part 
of its author than any of the attempts of Professor Weinhold to deal with 
the problems of German popular tradition. 

"Given Wien, 1875, p. ". 'Breslau, 1884, pp. 253-289. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE CALENDS OF JANUARY. 

In the first century before Christ a number of Germanic tribes, through / 
commerce and war, came into close contact with the Romans, taking over 
from them in rapid succession the Roman capital alphabet of Egyptian 
origin to turn it into their runes, the Phcenicio-Roman week, the pre-Julian 
calendar with its beginning of the year on March i, some astronomical 
wisdom, and a variety of other things. They took over the institution of 
the ancient Roman leap year with its intercalary month, ^ although they 
did not add this mensis Mercidonius every second year between February 23 
and 24, but about the middle of summer and at intervals which we do not 
know. This intercalary period of apparently about thirty days was the 
first thing to interfere with the congruity of the German year, which, so 
far, had known only tides of sixty days, but had not taken account of 
lunar periods for the purpose of dividing time, however conscientiously 
they might observe them as bringing good or bad luck to the affairs of 
daily life. Tacitus ^ keeps that usage quite distinct from the Germanic 
division of the year. So it continued for at least three-quarters of a 



'We know this from Beda, De Temporum Ratione^ chap, xv., who expressly testifies 
to the existence of an intercalary month among the ancient Angles. 

* Germaniay chap. xi. : '*Coeunt nisi quid fortuitum et subitum inddit, certis diebus, cum 
aut inchoatur luna aut impletur ; nam agendis rebus hoc auspicatissimum initium credunt." 

F 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



82 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

millennium.^ The introduction of Roman months instead of tides of about 
sixty days necessarily led to a breaking-up of the latter into two parts of 
equal length, for which new names were required. The fact that the six 
Germanic tides, which formed the course of a year, b^an about the middle 
of the Roman months made things a little difficult Yet the Roman month- 
names were taken over and bye and bye replaced by new German terms, 
which were formed by means of a word probably identical with Germanic 
moon^ mdnddh (Gothic nUndths^ Old Saxon mdnadh). It is, however, doubtful 
whether Latin mensis is exactly of the same derivation. Similarly, the relation 
of the root of moon to Sanskrit md^ to measure (Greek fierpov), is disputed 
with good reason. The moon was, among the Aryans and among the 
Germanics in particular, anything but the medium for dividing the course 
of the year, for which they received, at a very early date, a ready-made 
theory of probably Egyptian origin. The word m&nddh was added to each 
of the sections in order to mark them clearly out from the old three-score-day 
tides, the names of which were used for forming the new compounds. So 
the old liuleis tide of sixty days at the beginning of winter was divided 
into a first liuleis month and a second liuleis month, the Lida tide in 
summer into a first Lida month and a second Lida month, to which, in 
intercalary years, a third Lida month was appended, whilst the words 
liuleis^ Lida^ etc., without any addition, continued to mean a tide of about 
sixty days, two of which formed a Germanic season of a long hundred of 
days. Only gradually self-dependent names were developed for these half- 
tides which were denoted months, most of these names being taken from 
economic life, which naturally varied considerably between the coasts of 
the Baltic and the south of France, and from the British Isles down to 
the coasts of the Adriatic,^ and remained an ever new source of name- 
giving, especially during the time of transition from prevalent pasture to 

"^ Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 1714, Vol. IIL, col. 1686, Concilium Qmnisextum sive 
in TruUOf A.D. 706, Ixv. : ** Qui in noviluniis a quibusdam ante suas offidnas et domes 
accenduntur rogos, supra quos etiam antiqua quadam consuetudine salire inepte ac delire 
Solent, iubemus deinceps cessare. Quisquis ergo tale quid fecerit, si sit quidem clericus, 
deponatur: sin autem laicus, segregetur." 

* Weinhold, Die deutschen Monatnamm^ Halle, 1869, pp. 24-28. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 83 

prevalent agriculture. The inexhaustible variety of circumstances which led 
to names for these new half-tides made impossible the development of one 
and the same series of home-made month-names for all Germanic tribes, or 
even for each of the principal groups of them; nay, for individual tribes. 
The several hundreds of Germanic month-names found on Germanic territory 
from the sixth century down to the present time, with their innumerable 
variations of meaning, make impossible of attainment a system which would 
embrace them all. 

In the year of Rome 707, />., forty-five years before the date from^^ 
which later the Christian era was counted, the Julian calendar b^an to 
reign in Italy and Gaul, and on the coasts of the Mediterranean in general. 
Within the hundred and fifty years which followed, Roman l^ons and 
Roman administration carried it over the Rhine into Germany, and beyond 
the channel into the British Isles. As long as Gaul remained a Roman 
province entirely Romanized; as long as down the banks of the Rhine 
there flourished large Roman towns ; as long as hundreds of thousands of 
Germans served in Roman armies, visiting Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, 
fighting all over the world then known, and more than once disposing of 
the Roman imperial throne ; as long as invading Goths went down to Italy 
and Vandilian invaders to the north of Africa without losing contact with 
those Germanic tribes which remained northward of the Alps — there was 
practically no limit to the entry of Roman knowledge into Germanic terri- 
tory ; and in the suite of every-day experience there came Roman learning 
with its poets, historians, philosophers, rhetoricians, scientists, and physicians. 
All along the Rhine there flourished Roman rhetoric schools in consider- 
able number, in which the noble science of grammar and the trivium as 
well as the quadriviutn were taught thoroughly. Among the Germanics 
there was no self-dependent scholarship that could successfully compete 
with those finest products of a higher civilization, and so it became, 
for about a thousand years, the task of the Germanics to receive and 
ever receive mental gifts from the civilization of the empire they 
destroyed. 

In the suite of the new calendar which, after Julius Caesar, began the 
year with the Calends of January (at which date, subsequently to 153 B.C., 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



84 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

the Roman consuls had entered their offices), the whole anntial course of 
Roman festivals passed by degrees to Gaul, Germany, and the south of 
Great Britain ; above all, the Saturnalia^ Brumalia^ and Kalendae Januariae^ 
which, during the first three centuries of our era, were with great regularity 
observed in all the great towns along the Rhine, and thence spread to the 
inner parts of Germany, as far as Bohemia; nay, even to the Slave tribes 
east of the Germans, and to the Lithuanians north of them.^ 

Since even Professor Weinhold admits that the Roman calendar was 
one of the three forces which shaped the medieval German calendar,* it 
will be worth while to see of what kind the Roman customs were which 
could be transferred to Germany along with the institution of the Calends 
of January and the neighbouring festivals. There was first of all the 
custom of New- Year's gifts or Strenae.^ In imperial Rome the people 
and the Senate were expected to present New-Year's gifts to the emperors,* 
it being related that Augustus had had a nocturnal vision requiring 
that people should annually, on a certain day, present money to him, 
which he received with a hollow hand.^ During his reign they were 
given on the Capitol; but Caligula was so lost to a sense of shame, 

^ The Lithuanians, according to the old significance of their winter festival, called many 
centuries later their Christmas KalUdos^ a name which has wrongly been brought into 
connection with Lithuanian Kalada^ log (Grimm, Deutsche Mythologies 4th ed., p. 522), 
but is certain to have sprung from Calendcu^ since the Czechic word for Christmas is up 
till to-day Koleda (Polish Kolenda^ Russian Koijada); a fifteenth century source calling 
Bohemian Christmas processions calendisationes (Usener, Christlicher Festbrauch^ Bonn, 
i^ ; Johannes von Holleschau's Treatise on Christmas)^ and a verb colcndisare appear- 
ing in old sources of Bohemian law (Rossler, Prager Recht^ p. 95, No. 140). Compare 
my own Geschichte der deutschen Weihnacht^ Leipzig, 1893, p. 287, note to p. 14,', where 
the quotations from Holleschau's treatise are given. 

' 'Uber deutsche Jahrteilung^ Kiel, 1862, p. 3. 

' The habit of New- Year's presents boni ominis causa is first mentioned by Plautus 
( + 184 B.C.) in his Stichus^ iii. 2, 6 ; v. 2, 24. Their purpose is explained by Ovid, Fasti , i. 
187. Cakes and fruits were the principal gifb (Martialis, viii. 33 ; xiii. 37 ; Seneca, 
Epistulae^ Ixxxvii.). It seems to have been under Augustus that money took the place 
of these eatables. The custom still prevailed about a.d. 400 under the Emperors Arcadius 
and Honorius. 

^ Suetonius, in Augustus^ chap. Ivii. ; in Tiberius^ chap, xxxiv. ; in Caligula^ chap. xUL 
Compare Preller, Romische Mythologies p. 161. 

' "Cavam manum asses porrigentibus praebens,^ Ihid,^ in Augustus^ chap. xcL 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 85 

as to publish an edict expressly requiring such gifts, and to stand in 
the porch of the palace, on the Calends of January, in order to 
receive those which people of all descriptions brought to him.^ It was 
reckoned a handsome enough way of receiving gifts, when the bosom- 
fold of the cloak was expanded; but when they were received with 
both hands hollow,* or in "goupins," to use the Scotch word, it was 
accounted objectionable. Hence rapine was proverbially expressed in 
that manner.' 

But the celebration of the Calends of January was by no means the 
only festivity of that time of the year in ancient Rome ; there was a whole 
series of festivals, so that Seneca ( + a.d. 39) could write to his friend 
Ludlius: "It is now the month of December, when the greatest part of 
the city is in a bustle. Loose reins are given to public dissipation ; every- 
where may you hear the sound of great preparations, as if there were some 
real difference between the days dedicated to Saturn and those for transact- 
ing business. Thus, I am disposed to think, that he was not far from the 
truth who said that anciently it was the month of December, but now the 
year. Were you here, I would willingly confer with you as to the plan of 
our conduct ; whether we should live in our usual way, or, to avoid singu- 
larity, both take a better supper and throw off the toga. For what was 
not wont to be done, except in a tumult or during some public calamity 
to the city, is now done for the sake of pleasure, and from regard to the 
festival Men change their dress. It were certainly far better to be thrifty 
and sober amidst a drunken crowd, disgorging what they had recently 
swallowed." * 

These festivals were the Saturnalia^ with their equality between rich 
and poor, freemen and slaves, and their presents of all descriptions,* lasting 
from December 17 to December 19; or seven days, from December 17 to 

^ Suetonius, in Caligula, chap. xlii. 
'"Utraque manu cavata." 

• Ammianus Marcellinus, Lib. XVI. ; Rosin, Antiquiiaiest p. 29. 

* Seneca, Epistulae, xviii. ; Jamieson, Eiym. Diet, of Scot. Lang., " Yule," IV. 

B « Cereos Satumalibus muneri dabant humiliores potentioribus, quia candelis pauperes, 
locupletes cereis utebantur," Festus Pompdus, Lib. III. The new year's gift was called 
Kalendaticum, Ducange, Glossarium, explains **Kalendaticum praestatio quae Januarii 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



86 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

December 23. All labour rested, and, under the call lo Saturnalia! lo 
Saturnalia I people gave themselves to a wild joy. Then followed the 
Brumalia^ fixed by Caesar erroneously on December 25, the alleged shortest 
day of the year, called since that time occasionally Dies InvicH Solis^ day 
of the unconquered sun. The character of Saturnalia^ Brumaliay and 
Kalendae Januariae was very wild and lascivious, so wild that, together 
with the Matronalia of the first of March (and sometimes with the Septi- 
montiutn^ the feast of incorporation of the seven hills with the city of Rome, 
also celebrated in December), they were, by the fathers of the Christian 
Church, regarded as a perfect essence of heathendom, which was by no ' 
means meant to be a compliment. So Tertullian ( + a.d. 220) could say: . 
" By us who are strangers to sabbaths and new moons, once acceptable ' 
to God, the Saturnalia^ and the feasts of January, and Brumalia^ and 
Matronalia^ are frequented; gifts are sent hither and thither; there is 
the noise of the Strenae^ and of games and feasting. O ! better faith ; 
of the nations in their own religions, which adopts no solemnity of the ' 
Christians." ^ 

Kalendis fiebat." Ckarta Rogerii Siciliae Regis an. 1137, apud Falcanem Ben^ventanum, 
p. 315: ''Angarias, terraticum, herbaticum, camaticum, kalendaticum, vinum, olivas, 
relevum, etc. KaKavdiKbu in Justiniani edicto xiii." In England, as late as the thirteenth 
century, the oistom of benevolences exacted by kings was connected with the Roman 
Calends custom : ** Rex autem Regalis magnificentiae tenninos impudenter transgrediens, a 
civibus Londioensibus, quos novit ditiores, die Circumcisionis Dominicae, a quolibet exegit 
singulatim pnmitiva, quae vulgares nova dona novi anni superstitiose sclent appellate. *' 
The king is Henry III., a.d. 1249 (Matthaei Paris, Monachi Albanensis Angli, Historia 
Major, London, 1640, p. 757, under the year 1249). Matthew Paris goes on to say : 
"Veruntamen festo beati Aeduwardi, quod est in vigilia Epiphaniae, appropinquante, 
vocavit dominus Rex per literas suas copiosam Magnatum multitudinem : ut simul cum eo, 
qui in vigilia sancti, videlicet die Lunae in pane et aqua et in vestibus laneis jejunaverantt 
prout de more solet, ipsum festum magnifice celebrarent in ecclesia S. Petri apud West- 
monasterium." 

^ Tertullian, De Idolairia, chap. xiv. These sweetmeats, called by the name of StreruUy 
were therefore prohibited by the early church (V. Rosin, Antiquitaies, p. 29). The Strenae 
are traced as hx back as to King Tatius, who at this season used to receive branches of 
a happy or fortunate tree from the grove of Streniae as favourable omens with respect 
to the new year. In another passage {,De Idolatria, chap, x.) Tertullian says: "Saturn- 
alia, strenae captandae, et septimontiimi, et brumae, et carae cognationis honoraria exigenda 
omnia." Compare also Tertullian's De Fuga in Persecuiume^ chap. xiii. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 87 

With the introduction of the Julian calendar all kinds of southern 
Calends rights found entrance to the Germanics : the making of processions J 
through the streets and singing of songs, the lighting of candles and lamps, ^ 
the adorning of their houses with laurel and green trees, the giving of 
presents, men dressing up in women's garments, masquerades in the hides 
of animals, and the erection of a table of fortune for the good luck of 
the new year.^ 

Half a century before the beginning of our era the first Roman legion 
had entered Great Britain, and not much later British soil was in constant 
occupation by Roman legions. The great mass of Roman inscriptions found 
in Britain gives ample evidence as to their sojourn there. It is not 
astonishing that among these we find one devoted to the "God The 
Unconquered Sun" (Deus Invictus Sol),^ which further supports the general 
assumption that these l^ons did not only celebrate the Calends of 
January, but the Brumaiia as well, and a fortiori the Saturnalia. The 
exact date when the Roman l^ons were withdrawn from Great Britain 
is not known, but there is no doubt that Roman civilization and Roman 
religious tradition survived them there, so that when Augustine and his 
Roman fellow-missionaries of Christianity landed in Britain (a.d. 592) they 
found there December 25 as a day marked in the festive calendar, at least 

"^ Acta Conciliorumy Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 365, Concilium TUrancnse^ II., a.d. 
567, xxii. : " Enim vero quoniam cognovimus nonnullos inveniri sequipedas erroris antiqui, 
qui Kalendas lanuarii colimt cum lanus homo gentilis fiierit : rex quidem, sed Deus esse 
non potuit" And eight years later : " Non liceat iniquas observationes agere Kalendarum, 
et otiis vacare gentilibus, neque lauro aut viriditate arborum cingere domos. Omnis haec 
obsevatior paganismi est" (Caput IxxiiL of the Capitula Martini Episcopi Bracemis^ circa 
A.D. 575.) Ibid,^ Vol. III., col. 399. 

^ Monumenia Historica Britannica in the chapter, **Ex Inscriptionibus Excerpta de 
Britannia," p. 116, No. 103: ** Deo Invicto Soli Soc Sacrum Pro Salute Et 
Incolumitate Imp. Caes. M. Aureli Antonini Pii Felic. Aug. L. Caecilius Optatus Trib. 
Cob. I. Vardul Cum Con* braneis Votum. Deo • * A Solo Extruct ♦ ♦ •» 
(Riechester or Rochester, Northumberland). The Inscriptions, No. 102, "Deo Invicto 
Herculi Sacr. L. AemiL Salvianus Trib. Coh. I. Vangi V.S. P.M." (Risingham, 
Northumberland), and No. 75, "Silvano Invicto Sacrum C. Tertius Veturius Midanus," 
etc, show, however, that Invictus was a rather general divine predicate, which excludes 
the possibility of interpreting Inscription No. 103 as dedicated to the sole unconquered 
God, taking soli as the dative singular of solus. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



88 VULE AND CHRISTMAS 

of the south of England, which naturally paved the way for a celebration 
of Christ's Nativity on the same day. 

As regards the continental Germanics, as late as the middle of the 
eighth century there existed a perfect unity of popular sacramental usage 
as to the Calends of January between them and the Romans, the German 
Calends rites not only resembling the Roman ones absolutely, but even 
being felt to be identical with them by the people celebrating them. We 
know this from an incident of a.d. 742. In that year, Winfrid (BonifiEwdus), 
the " apostle of the Germans," in a letter written to Pope Zacharias, com- 
plained of a strange fact which hindered his getting on better in sowing 
the gospel in the souls of the Alamanniy Boioariiy and Franci, For when 
he interdicted them from certain heathen customs, they justified themselves 
by the excuse that they had seen similar things at Rome, close to St 
Peter's Church, where these things were regarded as perfectly permissible. 
And they told Boniface they had seen that every year on the eve of the 
Calends of January, after heathen custom, processions went through the 
streets singing unchristian songs and using heathen exclamations, that 
people erected tables of fortune and kept a Calends fire from which 
they would not give anything away, just as they refused to lend anything 
else to their neighbours during that time, and that women went publicly 
about wearing amulets round arms and legs, and offered them to others for 
sale. The Pope could not deny that such things actually happened in 
Rome ; but, of course, declared in his answer to Boniface that he detested 
them, as all Christians should do.^ In the next year he brought the matter 



'^Acta Conciliorum, Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., col. 1880, E^stola Bomfacii Episcofi 
ad Zachariam Papam (741-752): V. "Quia camales homines idiotae, Alamanni, vel 
Bajuarii, vel Franci, si juxta Romanam urbem aliquid fieri viderint ex his peccatis quae 
nos prohibemus, licitum et concessum a sacerdotibus esse putant: et dum nobis impro- 
perium deputant, sibi scandalum vitae accipiunt. VI. Sicut affirmant se vidisse annis 
singulis in Pomana urbe, et juxta ecclesiam sancti Petri, in die vel nocte quando Kalendae 
lanuarii intrant, paganorum consuetudine choros ducere per plateas, et acclamationes ritu 
gentilium, et cantationes sacrilegas celebrare, et mensas ilia die vel nocte dapibus onerare, 
et nullum de domo sua vel ignero, vel ferramentum, vel aliquid commodi vidno suo 
praestare velle. Dicunt quoque se ibi vidisse mulieres pagano ritu phylacteria et ligaturas 
in brachiis et in cruribus ligatas habere, et publice ad vendendum venales ad comparandum 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 89 

before the Synod of Rome, which promptly interdicted all usages of that 
kind at the Calends of January and Brumalia} An interdiction which was 
for several centuries repeated and repeated again, was in the form of a 
question taken over into all more important Penitentials of the Church, 
and there probably lived longer than the usages of which it was meailt to 
be destructive. The question was: "Didst thou observe the Calends of 
January after heathen custom, so as to lead singers and choirs through 
the streets and open places?"^ 

From the letter by Bonifacius to Pope Zacharius (741-752) it appears . 
that, according to Roman custom, the fire at the Calends of January was 
r^arded as holy, and custom did not permit anything to be taken away 
from it.' The Calends fire was an entirely private affair, not kept in public ; 
a fire on the hearth of the home, not a bonfire ; whilst all Germanic festive 
fires are bonfires in the open air. 



aliis ofierre. Quae omnia eo quod ibi a camalibus et insipientibus videntur, nobis hie 
improperium et impedimentum praedicationis et doctrinae faciunt^' To this the Pope 
replied (/^., III., coL 1883, vi.): **De Kalendis vero Januariis, vel ceteris auguriis, 
vel phylacteriis, et^ incantationibus, vel aliis diversis observationibus, quae gentili mote 
observari dixisti apud beatum Petrum apostolum, vel in urbe Roma; hoc et nobis, et 
omnibus Christianis detestabile et pemiciosum esse judicamus," etc. The Letters are 
reprinted in EpistoUu Merowingici it Karolini aezHf I., Berlin, 1892, p. 301, and commented 
upon by Rudolf Koegel, GtschichU der deutschen LUeratur bis %um Ausgang des MUUlalters^ 
Strassburg, 1894, p. 29, though Koegel fails to recognize their proper bearings. 

"^ Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., col. 1929, Concilium Romanum^ I., 
A.D. 743, ix.: '*Ut nullus Kalendas Januarias et broma colere praesumpserit, aut mensas 
cum dapibus in domibus praeparare, aut per vicos et plateas cantationes et choros ducere, 
quod maxima iniquitas est coram Deo: anathema sic.'' Compare R. Koegel, Geschichte 
der deutschen LiiercUur^ I. 28. 

••'Observasti Calendas lanuarias ritu paganorum . . . ita ut per vicos et per plateas 
cantores et choros duceres," Penitentiary of Burchard von Worms (Friedberg, Aus deutschen 
Bussbiichem^ p. 84; Rud. Koegel, Geschichte der deutschen Literatur, 1894, I., p. 29). 

^ Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., col. 1880, Epistola Bonifacii Episcopi 
ad Zachariam Papam, vi., where it is said of the Calends of January : ** Et nullum de 
domo suo vel ignem, vel ferramentum, vel aliquid commodi vidno suo praestare velle." 
At the Saturnalia candles were given as presents, nay, even torches of wax. "Cereos 
Satumalibus muneri dabant humiliores potentioribus, quia candelis pauperes, locupletes 
cereb utebantur,'' Festus Pompeius, Lib. III. The same custom is witnessed by Martialis 
and Macrobius. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



90 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

There is not a single case on record of a New Year's or Christmas 
fire held in the open air in ancient times; when such fires are recorded, 
towards the end of the twelfth century, they are of a perfectly private 
character.^ It can scarcely astonish anybody that, in the coldest time of 
the year, good care was taken to have a good warm fire, and that for that 

^The oldest cases of quasi public Christmas Bres are found in 1577 and 1591. They 
are, however, kindled in the private houses of the sexton or provost. Wahlscheid, Sieg 
District, Archive of the Protestant Parish, Document of Apiil 23, 1577, on the MUnchhof of 
Wahlscheid, property of the Monastery of Maer near Neuss, paragraph 51** Zum fiinfilen 
soil der opferman haben von dem vorschrieben munchhoflf heixholtz, nottur£ftigen brandt 
sonder schaden, undt zu christmissen einen stock, des soil der halfiinan schuldig sein zu 
leiden, dasz die nachpam, wem solches gefellig, muegen gehen su desz opfTermans hausz, 
umb sich bei dem christock zu wermen " ; Schroteler, Herrlichkeit und Stadt Viersen^ Koln, 
1S61, pp. 349, 350, Article 32 of the Viersener Landrecht of 1591. " Item wan ein donner 
wetter ist soil der scholtis den kUster die klocken helffen trecken oder sein diener, desgleichen 
in der Christnacht so lang helffen trecken, dass ein man auss Theys hofif an die kirch 
gahn magh und in der selbe fruhe morgen stondt sail der scholtiss einen stock oder 
hartholtz ein grot feur in brandt halten bist der Gottesdienst auss ist, das die jenighe, 
so zur metten und zur kirchen kommen, sich etwas wermen mogen." The old new year's 
fire seems, under the influence of the special conditions of early morning service, to 
have become an institute and servitude. But it is not sure that there is any special 
connection between this fire for \earming the church-goers and the fire of the Calends of 
January. How great is the danger of regarding as sacramental customs which merely spring 
from the requirements of the season, can be seen from the following case : The Boke of 
Curtasye firom the Sloane MS., 1986, in the British Museum, A.D. 1430-40, ed. by 
Fumivall for the Early English Text Society, London, 1868, in The Baabus Book^ etc, 
p. 311 says of the Marshall : 

" 383 Gromon-vsshere, and grome also, 
Vndur hym ar thes two : 
Tho grome for fuelle that schalle brenne 
In halle, chambur, to kechyn, as I the kenne, 
He shalle delyuer hit ilke a dele. 
In halle make fyre at yche mele ; 
Borde, trestuls, and formes also. 
The cupborde in his warde schalle go. 
The dosurs cortines to henge in halle, 
Thes offices nede do he schalle; 
393 Bryng in fyre on alhalawgh day, 
To condulmas euen, I dar welle say 
Per quantum tempus armigeri habebunt liberatam et ignis ardebit in aula. 
So longe squiers lyuer^ shalle hafe. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 91 

purpose large pieces of wood were put on, but a thorough proof would be 
requisite before such fires could be regarded as of Germanic origin. Besides, 
they are by no means confined to Christmas, but appear on Epiphany as 
well. An old Bavarian manuscript contains the item : " Igfies qui fieri 
Solent in vigilia Epiphaniae" ^ 

We know from a Weisium that (a.d. 1184) one of the privileges of the 
manse of Ahlen, Westphalia, was the right of delivery to it of a whole tree 
for the festive fire at Christmas eve. But that fire is at the same time 
denoted as the clergyman's private festive Christmas fire;^ and in another 

Of grome of halle, or ellis his knafe ; 
But fyre shalle brenne in halle at mete 
To Cena domini that men hase ete ; 
Ther browgt schalle be a holyn kene, 
That sett shalle be in erber grene, 
And that schalle be to alhalawgh day, 
And of be skyfted, as y the say ; " 
and p. 327 : 

** 833 In chambur no lygt there shalle be brent, 
Bot of wax ther-to, yf ge take tent ; 
In haU^^at soper schalle caldels brenne 
Of parys, ther-in that alle men kenne ; 
Iche messe a candelle fro alhalawghe day 
To candelmesse, as I gou say; 
Of candel liueiay squiyers schalle haue, 
So long, if hit b mon wille kraue." 

This fifteenth century book slates that fires are to burn in the hall from November i to 
February 2, whilst squires shall have a fire during their dinner from November i to Maunday 
Thursday (Cena Domini), A daily candle they receive from November i to February 2. 
Had mention of these customs been made about Christmas-tide, they might easily have been 
supposed to be popular Christmas customs. In churches, no doubt, the number of candles 
used at Christmas was very great, as can still be seen from church accounts, e,g,^ at the 
manse of Engelskirchen, District of WipperfUrth, Rhine-country, of A,D. 1596-7: **In 
Anno 96 auff christmess funff und ein firdel pont wachfs zu kertzen gemacht vur jeder pont 
gegeben 22 alb. £Eicit 4 guld. 19 alb. 6 heller, und in der christnacht ein halff pont kleiner 
kertzen, costen 4 alb." 

> Ulrich Jahn, Deutsche Op/ergebrduchey 1884, P- 255. 

^ When stating the privileges of his parsonage the clergyman: "£t arborem in nativi- 
tate domini ad festivum ignem suum adducendum esse dicebat." Kindlinger, MUnstersche 
Beilrdge^ II., document 34; Grimm, Deutsche Mytholcgie^ 2nd ed., p. 594. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



4 



gi YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Weistumy of Riol and Velle on the Mosella, the Scheffe is said to be entitled 
to a Winnachtploech \^ whilst a third Weistum^ of Tavern on the Mosella, 
remarks : ^^ Item ein bochg zu hawen vff Chris tabend vor den Christbraten ;"* 
so that we have no more to do with a festive fire, but merely with a fire 
for roasting meat in the kitchen, if there was one, and if the roasting was 
not rather done over the fire of the common room. There occur also 
public payments for a common Christbraden of burghers.* 

That the festive fire at Christmas was a private affair, and that poor 
people were not always able to have one of their own, appears from a little 
medieval story, either from the thirteenth or fourteenth century, which 
contains an allusion to the Yule-log, although it seems to point to the fact 
that it was by no means common, so that a blacksmith could rejoice to 
get a Yule-log contrary to expectation, by a mere play of seeming chance.* 

^ Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsaltertumer^ II., 302. ^ Ibidy II., 264. 

' Town- Archive of Bingen on the Rhine, No. 90, Town accounts of A.D. 1 501, "Item 
14 s. 6 hUr. hain wir geben zum Christbraden uff die christnacht den burgern imd nachbern." 

* ** Quidam in partibus de Winchelse sibi aggregavit pecuniam in cista, de qua ncc sibi 
nee aliis voluit subvenire. Veniens igitur una die ut eam videret, vidit super earn quendam 
diabolum sedere nigerrimum, dicentem sibi, * Recedere, nee est pecunia tua, sed Godewini 
fabri.* Quod iUe audiens, et nolens eam in alicujus commodum pervenire, cavavit magnum 
truncum, ipsamque imposuit, reclusit, et in mare projecit. Quern quidem truncum marinae 
undae ante ostium dicti Godewini, viri justi et innocentis, manentis in proxima villa, super 
litus in siccum projecerunt, circa vigilium Dominici Natalis. Exiens itaque idem Godwinus 
mane, invenit truncum projectum, multumque gavisus pro habendo foco in tanto festo, eum 
in domum suam traxit, et ad locum foci gaudens apposuit. Intrante itaque fesd praedicti 
vigilia, ignis trunco supponitur, metallum Intro latens liquesdt, et exterius defimditur. 
Quod videns uxor dicti Godwini, ignem subtrahit, truncum movet et abscondit. Sicque 
ut dominus praedictae pecuniae victum quaereret hostiatim, dictusque &ber de paupere 
fieret inopinate dives, devulgatur quia in vicinio quod miser ille pecuniam suam demersisset, 
cogitavit ergo uxor dicti Godwini quod eidem misero in aliquo caudus subveniret, o^tans 
dictam pecuniam fuisse suam, fecit uno die panem unum, et in eo XL. solidos abscondens 
dedit ei. Quem infortunatus ille accipiens piscatoribus super litus obviavit, panem eis pro 
uno denario vendidit, et recessit. Venientes itaque piscatores ad domum dicti Godwini, 
prout fiierunt assueti, dictum panem extrahunt et suis equis elargiri proponunt Quem 
agnoscens domina domus, avenam pro eb dedit et eum recepit Idemque miser finetenus 
pauper undique remansit," Thomas Wright, A Selection of Latin Stories (from Manu- 
scripts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries : a Contribution to the History of Fiction 
during the Middle Ages. London, printed for the Percy Society, 1842), pp. 220, 221, 
from Altdeutsche Blatter, Vol. I., p. 75 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 93 

On British soil an early instance of a Yule-clog or Yule-log has yet to 
be given. Ulrich Jahn's generalizations,^ according to which a pre-Christian 
winter-solstice fire would have to be supposed as a general custom, are void 
of any historical foundation, and merely represent fantastic speculations. 
Nay, the very fact that the British version of the above story ^ makes ther 
blacksmith use the tree trunk as an anvil seems to indicate that the Yule- 
log is only a more modem intrusion into that story. For the fact that 
the figure of the blacksmith is kept in the German story shows that the 
anvil has been replaced by the Yule-log, and not vice versa? 

The privilege of cutting wood in the forest about Christmas appears ^ 
also in Switzerland, where it is connected with a local legend. On Decem- 
ber 27, 1375, the women of the Berne village Hetteswil are said to have 
surprised and slain the knightly army of the Count of Coucy. As a reward 
they received, from the Prior of the monastery, the privilege to go, on 
St John's day at Christmas, with a hatchet into the forest of the monastery 
and cut as much wood for boiling their Christmas soup as they needed. But 
when it was found that the forest suffered too great damage, because the 
women used to boil too tough Christmas fowl, the privilege was changed 
to the effect that instead of the firewood they received a meadow, which, 
in 1826, was still in the possession of the women of Hetteswil, and the 
yearly yield of which was spent for a meal called the fowl-soup.* That we 
have here to do with an old term servitude is evident from the fact that 
in some cases the servitude of driving a cart-load, or several cart-loads, of 
wood to a castle or landlord's dwelling, known to medieval Latinity as 
truncagiuniy and in early English as wodlade^^ appears not at Christmas 

* Die detitschen Opfergebrduche bH Ackerbau und Viehzuchi^ Breslau, 1884, p. 258. 
' Thomas Wright, A Selection of Latin Stories, p. 27, No. 25. 

• The passage of the English story runs : " Dixit quidam puer ad magistnim navis, * Da 
mihi tnincum istum, quia faber istius villae amicus meus est, et volo ei dare truncum ut 
faciat sibe exinde incudem.' Et magister concessit. Cum autem faber quadam die opera- 
retur super truncum ilium et feriret, exilierunt denarii de trunco per quoddam foramen, et 
obstupuit faber, sed omnes collegit, et consilio uxoris suae illos abscondit." 

^ Bemer NeujahrsblcUt , 1826, 28 ; Rochholz, Deutscher Glaube und Branch^ Berlin, 1867, 
11., p. 317. 
■ ^ Notes and Queries, 7th series, x., 472, 1890, Geo, Neilson: Truncap'um, 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



94 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



alone, but at Christmas and May, whilst the old terms were Martinmas 
and mid-May (or Rogation Days or Pentecost), of which the former had 
been shifted to Christmas.^ 

So late as about 171 2 the wood for the Christmas fire is mentioned, it 
being a servitude of the holders to drive it into the castle.* 

When the tenant of a small, holding paid his duties at the old terms, 
he was, as a rule, entertained to dinner by his landlord. The meal he got 
was not a free gift of the landlord, but something to which the tenant had 
a claim, and which had to be of a certain substantiality and duration. Its 
duration was, in the fifteenth century, fixed by the time requisite for burn- 
ing away a wet wheel on the open fire in the hall in which the meal took 
place. We know that custom to have been observed at various terms, in 
autumn as in winter.^ As long as the only instance known fell on 

^ Bllrgermebteramt Osterath, district Crefeld, Schaizregister des Kirspels Osteraki^ 
made in 1683, after models of 1603 and 1640, contains the regulation that the community 
has the duty to drive to the castle of Linn twelve cart-loads of wood every eight weeks : 
" Item noch jahrligs drey Christ- und drey Meyfuhren beyfahren." In the sixteenth cen- 
tury Christmas and Pentecost (instead of Martinmas and Pentecost) appear together in the 
same way (Klotz, Beschreibung der Herrschaft und Stadt Cera^ 1 81 6, p. 237; the first 
article of the Reussische KirchetwisUaHon of 1533 is: ** Zu gedenken das Opfer-Geld zu 
Besserung des Pfarrers jahrlich auf zwo Tagzeit, als namlich zu Weyhnachten und Pfingsten 
ordentlich einzubringen und zusammlen"). 

The Archive of the Protestant parish of Leuscheid, Rhine country, contains, under 
IV. ^, a complaint about the withdrawal of the Christmas allowance of wood of Novem- 
ber 17, 1696. According to it, it was customary, ** dass ein jedweder kirspels eingesessener, 
der welcher ein gefahr unter henden hat, auff christmess umbtrent ein karrich hotz, dass 
Christ-holtz, zu unterhaltung der hauss-steur an dass widem hauss unentgeltlich zu liefieren 
schuldig." 

* Bttrgermeisteramt Liedberg, district MUnchen Gladbach, Acts^ No. 16, 4, Manuscript 
of about 17 12, fragment of a Weistum on the services to be rendered to the family of 
Liedberg, paragraph 10, " Item ist auch das gantze amt nach advenant schuldig auf Christ,- 
messen die corstbrende dem haus Liedberg au&ufahren " {advenant is the document which 
regulates the distribution among the several communities of the servitudes to be borne by 
the whole district). 

' In an unprinted document on the privileges of the family of LUftelberg in the SUrst, 
a district between Pk>nn and Euskirchen, Rhine country, of 1579, which is copied 
from the same original as is an eighteenth century manuscript in the Archive of the fiimily 
of LUftelberg, it is decreed that the holders have to deliver their duties to the landlord 
on St. Kunibert*s day (October 10): **Wann solches geschehen, so soil der grundherr 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 95 

December 26, there was at least some possibility of connecting this habit 
with the Calends-log and later Christmas-log, but now this no longer holds 
good. Speculative mythologists found in that wheel an image of the 
sun, and regarded its burning as a solstice-celebration. In all probability 
the holders had to deliver the wheels— of course simple tree sections^ — 
and the time requisite for burning them was made the duration of their 
meal, in order that they might not make them too thin. 

The custom of Christmas fire no doubt has its root in the Roman •^ 
Calends of January rite of the same description. But that fact did not 
hinder it from receiving an intrinsically Christian interpretation. It was an 
old institute for the landlord to give his tenant a cart-load or wheelbarrow- 
load of wood at the birth of a child. Christ being regarded, in the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, as a kind of little universal brother to 
mankind, the occasion of his birth was taken as an opportunity for gifts 
similar to those which children received at the birth of a baby brother or 
sister. In the beginning of the sixteenth century such gifts to children 
\ were called in North Germany kindsvdt^ or childVfoot,^ the same name 

\ . — — - — 

darentgegen schuldig sein den geschwomen ein frei kost zugeben, drei gericht von einem 
schwein, erbsen und pfeffer, week und brod, wein und bier, wie von alters gebrauchlich. 
Wann die geschwomen ihre zeit sitzen, so soil man ein rad an das feur legen, welches 
3 tag und 6 wochen im wasser gelegen hat, so lang den geschwomen essen und trinken 
geben, bis ein auswendiger mann komt und nicht erkennen mag, was das gewesen sei" 
(communicated to me by Dr. Armin Tille of Bonn). It was the custom that the peculi- 
arities of such dinners as were legal institutions should be prescribed exactly. Compare 
Lamprecht, Deuisches Wirtschaftsleben im MUtelaiter, III., p. 32, Urbary of the Stift St. 
Trond of A.D. 1274 (Bridal on the Mosella) : "Item autumpno facto debent praedicti 
feodales habere servitium sive prsCndium de tribus ferculis ab ecclesia sancti Trudonis, olera 
cum camibus bovinis, cames porcinas cum pipere et pordnas cames assas." Another 
example of this custom was published by Grimm, Deutsche JRechisaliertumer^ II., p. 615, 
616, 693 : " Ufi* sant stephans tage solle der lehenmann liefem vnd bezalen pfenningzins 
vnd weissbroit, dan soil man dem lehenman guitlich thuin auff dem hofe, zweyerley wein 
zweyerley fleischs, zweyerley brot vnd alles desjeniges, wass vom tage zeitig iss. abe der 
lehenher bedoecht, dass der lehenman zu lange seess, so solle der lehenher ein naeff sechs 
wochen vnd drey tag in ein mistphole legen laissen, dieselb nit rodeln noch stcchen, vnd 
wannehe die verbrandt, dass der dauon keyner mehr erkandt mocht werden, soil der 
lehenman vfi&tehen." 

^ A broad cross section of a tree still often forms the Scottish peat barrow wheel. 

^ Franz Wessel's description of the Roman Catholic service at Stralsund, A.D. 1523, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



96 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

being given to the present of straw which the cattle, swine, geese, and 
ducks received that day, in order that they might take part in the rejoicing 
over Christ's birth. Similarly it was a custom that, at Hippetsweiler, the 
Kelner gave to the small holders at Christmas three cart-loads of wood, and 
one cart-load on the birth of a child. ^ The Gotteshausleute of the monastery 
of Petershausen, Schlatt, in the first half of the fifteenth century, received 
at Christmas a wheelbarrow-load of wood — on the birth of a boy a cart-load, 
and on the birth of a girl a wheelbarrow-load of wood.^ 

There is another Italian custom connected with the Calends of January 
which found its way through Gaul to Great Britain and Germany, though 
comparatively late. It is the habit of walking about in the hides of calves 
and deer and doing all kinds of indecency under the protection of these 
masks. Even Rudolph Koegel, who has a great inclination for finding 
something Germanic everywhere, admits this custom to be of Italian origin.^ 
That this habit was unknown in inner Germany comparatively late can be 
shown by a misunderstanding made by a glossator when translating a 
passage relating to it* There was a German custom to sit down on a cow's 
hide, or deer's hide, at a cross road, or on the roof of the house, on cer- 
tain nights and wait for oracles. This was called iiodorsdza. When the 
glossator found the phrase in cervulo mentioned, he thought it referred to that 
custom, and translated: in cervulo^ in iiodersdza^ whilst in vetula he interpreted 
in deru varentun truchti^ />., in the procession.* About these masquerades, 

Hofer ia Bartsch's Germania, xviii., i : **s6 dr6gen s^ garuen in de koppele efte sus in 
de lucht, dadt se de windt sn^ rtp efte sus de lucht beschtnen konde, dadt hetede men 
des morgens kindesv6dt, dadt deelde men des morgen allem Otth, schl6ch eine game 2 efte 3 
Ath undt gaf den swfnen koyen enten gensen dad sealle des kindesvdthes geneten scholdenn." 

"Weistum of a.d. 1400, from Hippetsweiler, Upper Rhine, Furstmbergisches Urkunden- 
buchy Tubingen, 1877, Vol. VI., No. 132, p. 216. 

*A.D. 1444, Ibid.y Vol. VI., No. 240, Hossler, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des 
Baiumkrieges in Siidwestdmtschland^ Leipzig Dissertation, 1895, PP* ^S* ^^* 

^Geschuhte der deutschen Uferatur, Strassburg, 1894, I., p. 30. 

^ AUhochdeutsche Clossm,^ II., 365, 17. 

* Koegel, Gtschichte der deutschen Literatur^ I., 30, note, explains in deru varentun 
truchti quite rightly as procession, while MUUenholT, Zeitschrift fUr deuisches AUertum, 
XII., 351, thought it to refer to the Wild Huntsman, who, however, is in no way con- 
nected with the Twelve-nights, as Koegel assumes, these Twelve-nights themselves being 
of Christian origin, the Dodekahemeron of the old Church. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 97 

which are till very late associated with the Calends, and have for a long 
time no relation to the Church festival of Christ*s Nativity, we have various 
reports, the most important being the homily De Sacriiegits, written in Gaul 
in the seventh or eighth century, but commonly ascribed to Augustine.^ 
"Reversing the order of things, the heathens in those days dress them- 
selves up into indecent monsters. These miserable men and, still worse, 
some baptized Christians take on false likenesses and monstrous faces, of 
which people should rather be ashamed and sad. For what reasonable 
man would believe that men in the possession of their senses should, by 
playing a stag, turn themselves into the nature of animals ? Others dress 
themselves up in the hides of their cattle; others put on the heads of 
animals, rejoicing and exulting that they are turned into the shape of 
beast to such an extent that they no more appear to be human beings. 
How horrible is it, further, that those who have been bom men take on 
women's dresses, and effeminate their manhood by girls* dresses in an 
abominable masquerade! They who do not blush to put their warlike 
arms into women's dresses ! Bearded faces are displayed by them, and yet 
they wish to be taken for women !" "What is so insane as, by a disgraceful 
dress, to give the male sex the appearance of the female ? What so insane 
as to spoil one's face and put on masks by which even demons might be 
terrified? What so insane as with indecent gestures and improper songs 
to sing the praise of vices in shameless delight ? To turn one's self into a 
wild beast, to resemble the goat or the stag, in order that man, created 

^Ed. by Caspari, Christiania, 1886, who gives a large number of parallels to the 
customs related and expressions used. Compare Friedrich Panzer, Bayerische Sagen und 
Brduche^ Mttnchen, 1855, Vol. II., pp. 466-468: "Cervulum seu vitulam fecere." 
Caspari's text says about the Calends of January, § 24 : '* In istis diebus miseri homines 
cervolo fiicientes vestiuntur pellibus pecodum. Alii sumunt capita bestiarum, gaudentes et 
exultantes ut homines non essent. Et illud quid turpe est ! Viri tunids mulierum 
induentes se feminas videri volunt.*' The usual phrases are: "cervulum et vetulam 
facere; in cervulo aut vetula vadere; cervulos aut vetulas ducere.** Koegel, Gesckickte der 
dmtschen Literature I., 30, note. The Covmcil of Auxerre, 573-603 (in Concilia atvi 
Merofvingiciy ed. by Frid. Maassen, Hannover, 1893, p. 179), forbade: "Non licet 
Kalendis Januarii vetolo aut cervolo ^ere vel streneas diabolicas observare, sed in ipsa 
die sic omnia beneficia tribuantur sicut et reliquis diebus'' {Acta Conciliorum^ Parisib, 
17 14, Vol. III., col. 444). 

G 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



98 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

to be the likeness and image of God, may become the sacrifice of demons!" 
"Therefore he who gives to anyone of those miserable men any human 
requirement in the Calends of January, when in the sacrilegious rite 
they rather rage than play, shall know that he does not give it to men 
but to demons. Therefore, if you do not want to participate in their sins, 
do not permit that the stag or the cow or any such portent come before 
your house." ^ It almost looks as if the Matronalia of March i, the 
lascivious festival of the ladies of ancient Rome, had, with the banning 
of the year through the Julian calendar, been shifted to January i, and 
there revived in ever-new glory and licentiousness! In less eloquent 
speech the same habit was repeatedly forbidden by Councils and mentioned 
in Penitentials, especially during the eighth century.^ 

' ' A list of other allusions to this custom is given in my CeschUhie der detUschm 
Weihnachi^ pp. 15 and 288. 

' *' Kalendas quae dicuntur, et vota, et brumalia quae vocantur ; et qui in primo Martii 
mensis die fit conventum, ex fidelium universitate omnino tolli volumus : sed et publicas 
mulierum saltationes multam noxam exitiumque afferentes: quin etiam eas, quae nomine 
eorum, qui &lso apud Gentiles dii nominati sunt ; vel nomine virorum ac mulierum fiunt, 
saltationes ac mysteria, more antiquo et a vita Christianorum alieno, amandamus et expel- 
limus; statuentes, ut nullus vir deinceps muliebri veste induatup, vel mulier veste viro 
conveniente. Sed neque comicas, vel satyricas, vel tragicas personas induat; neque 
execrandi Bacchi nomen, uvam in torcularibus exprimentes, invocent; neque vinum in 
dolls efiundentes, risum moveant ; ignorantia vel vanitate, ea quae ab insaniae impostura 
procedunt, exercentes" {Acta Conciliorumy Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., coL 1683, Concilium 
Qmnisextum sivi in Trulloy A.D. 706, Ixii.). The same appears in England: Thorpe, 
Ancient Laws^ II., 34 (xxvii. "De Idolatria et Sacrilegio, et qui ... in Kalendas 
Januarii in cervulo et in vitula vadit," etc.). § 19. "Si quis in Kalendas lanuarii in cervulo 
aut vetula vadit, id est, in ferarum habitus se communicant, et vestiuntur pellibus pecudum, 
et assumimt capita bestiarum ; qui vero taliter in ferinas species se transformant, in. annos 
poeniteant ; quia hoc daemoniacum est " (seventh century). ... § 24. '* Qui observat 
divinos, vel praecantatores, philacteria etiam diabolica, et somnia, vel herbas; aut v. 
feriam, honore lovis, vel kalendas lanuarii, more paganorum, honorat; si clericus est, 
V. annos poeniteat; laicus iii. annos poeniteat." Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and 
Ecclmastical Docummls, Oxford, 1871, Vol. III., p 424; Egbert's Penitential, A.D. 732-766, 
viiL 4: *<Caraios et divinos praecantatores, filecteria etiam diabolica vel herbas vel fadno 
suis vel sibi impendere vel quinta feria in honore Jovis vel Kalendas Januarias secundum 
paganam causam honorare, si non, quinque annos peniteat clericus, si laicus, tres annos 
peniteat" Ducange, Ghssarium, under Cervula^ adds a long list of instances : *' Concilium 
ToUtanum^ iv., Dm. x. ; S. Isidorus, lib. I., De Officio EccUsiac, cap. xl. ; Concilium 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 99 

When, through the Julian calendar, the Calends of January became a 
festive tide among the Germanics, they were at first probably a festive tide 
like others, without any special reference to the new year. But in the course 

TurofunsCy ii., Can. xvii. ; St. Augustinus, Sermo de Tempore, 215: *Si adhuc agnoscatis 
aliquos illam sordidissimani turpitudinem de hinnula, vel cervula exercere, ita durissime 
castigate, ut eos poeniteat rem sacrilegam commistsse ' ; Vita S. Eligii, Lib. II., cap. xv. : 
' Nullus in Kalendis Januarii nefanda et ridiculosa, vetulas, aut cervulos, aut jotticos fadat;' 
Halitgarius Cambrensis in Ubro Poenitentiali, cap. vi. : * Si quis in Kalendb lanuarii, quod 
multi fiununt, et in cervulo dudt, aut in vetula vadit, tres annos poeniteat ; ' Burchardus 
Wormaciemis, Ub. XIX., cap. v.: *Fecisti aliquid tale, quod pagani fecerunt, et adhuc 
iaciunt in Kalendis lanuarii in cervolo et vetula: si fecisti, triginta dies in pane et aqua 
poeniteas;' St. Pacianus in Paraenesi ad Poenitentiam ; S. Ambrosius in Psalmo xli. : *Sed 
iam satis in exordio tractatus, sicut in principio anni, more vulgi cervus allusit ; ' Faustinus 
Episcopus in Semtone in Kalendas lanuariasi 'Quisenim sapiens credere poterit inveniri 
aliquos sanae mentis, qui cervulum fodentes, inferarum se velint habitus commutari? Alii 
vestiuntur pellibus pecudum, alii assumunt capita bestiarum, gaudentes et exultantes, si taliter 
se in ferinas spedes transformaverint, ut homines non esse videantur ; ' Aldhelmus, Abbas 
Malmesburiensis initio Epistolae ad Eahfridum ; Epistolae Petri Damiani, p. 384, editionis 
A.D. 1610; Durandus, Lib. VI., De Ratione\ cap. xv." Ducange, Glossarium, under 
JCalendae, quotes a large number of other prohibitions of the Calends of January cdebrations: 
** Concilium Romanum subZacharia, Can. viii. ; Concilium Turonense, ii., Cann. xvii.-xxiL; 
Capituhre Gregorii, ii., P.P. pro Bavaris, cap. viii. ; Attonis Episcopi Basilensis Capitula, cap. 
\xxai.\EpisiuUiipsiusZachariaieadBonifaciumMoguntinum\ St, Ambrosii Sermo \\,\ S.Maximi 
Taurinensis, Petri Chrysologi Sermo, cxv. ; Faustini Episcopi apud Bolandum, i Januariis : 
Joannis Chrysostomi; S. Asterii ; Tertullianus De Idolatria, c. xiv. ; Isidorus, Lib. I., De 
Ecclesiae Officio, cap. xl. ; Alcuinus, Lib, de Divino Officio, c. iv. ; Cyprianus in Vita S. 
Caesarii Arelatensis, sub. fine. ; Anonymus in Vita S, Sansonis Episcopi Dolensis, Lib. II., 
c. xiii. ; Vita S. Hugoms Abbatis S, Martini Eduensis, n. xv." Direct continuations of these 
turbae impudicae are the Calends guilds or Calends brethren, Ducange, Glossarium, under 
Kalendae : '* Sodalitates ad pias causas, inquit Sambucus. Fratres Calendarum, qui vulgo 
Confratres, forte quod singulorum mensium Kalendis invicem convenirent, occurrunt in 
Lib. I., Decret, S, Ladislai Regis Hungariae, c, xiv., 39, et in Capitulis Laureniii Archiep, 
Strigon,, c xlvi." Under the influence of a Greek rite these wild enjoyments in the course 
of centuries became even an unholy ecclesiastical institution. Ducange, Glossarium, under 
Kalendae', Octava Synodus, Can. xvL, ex versione Anastasii (Canon xvi. is wanting in the 
Greek version), sajrs: "Fuisse quosdam Laicos qui secundum diversam Imperatoriam 
dignitatem videbantur capillorum comam drcumplexam involvere atque reponere" (ita 
namque, ait hoc loco Anastasius, a cervice usque ad capita contorquebant, ut clericali more 
in rotundam tonsi viderentur) **et gradum quasi sacerdotalem per quaedam indusia et 
vestimenta sacerdotalia sumere, et ut putabatur, Episcopos constituere, superhumeralibus, 
id est, palliis, circumamictos, et omnem aliam Pontificalem indutos stolam, qui ctiam 
proprium Patriarcham adscribentes, eum qui in adinventionibus rbum moventibus Praelatus 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



lOO YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

of time that side was bound to come into the foreground, to rival and, 
later on, to replace the old Germanic New Year towards the middle 
of November. So it could not fail that Germanic usages having special 

et Princeps erat, et insultabant, et illudebant, quibusque divinis, modo quidem electiones, 
promotiones, et consecrationes, modo autem acute calumnias, et depositiones Episcoporum 
quasi ab invicem et per invicem miserabiliter et praevaricatorie agentes et patientes ; tales 
autem actio nee apud gentes a saeculo unquam audita est," etc The later medieval 
ecclesiastical Festum Fatuorum or Hypodi<uonorum is the outcome of the marriage between 
the Calends of January and that Greek habit. In the shape of an Abbot of Unreason^ a 
Lord of MisruUf or Boy-bishops and similar types, it lived on for centuries, and is, in Great 
Britain, even to-day not quite extinct Ducange, Glossarium^ under Kalmdaex *'6eletus 
(vivebat in Ecclesia Ambianensi, a.d. 1 182), chap. cxx. : 'Sunt nonnullae Ecclesiac, in 
quibus usitatum est, ut vel etiam Episcopi et Archiepiscopi in Coenobiis cum suis ludant 
subditis, ita ut etiam sese ad ludum pilae demittant. Atque haec quidem libertas ideo dicta 
est Decembrica, quod olim apud ethnicos moris fuerit, ut hoc mense servi et ancillae, et 
Pastores velut quadam libertate donarentur, fierentque cum dominis suis pari conditione, 
communia festa agentes post collectionem messium : quanquam vero magnae Ecclesiae, 
ut est Remensis, banc ludendi consuetudinem observent, videtur tamen laudabilius esse non 
ludere.' Ibid, in Libro de Divinis Officiis^ chap. Ixxii : * Festum Hypodiaconorum, quod 
vocamus Stultorum, a quibusdam perficitur in Circumdsione, a quibusdam vero in 
' Epiphania, vel in eius octavis. Fiunt autem quatuor tripudia post Nativitatem Domini in 
Ecclesia, Levitarum scilicet, Sacerdotum, Puerorum, id est, minorum aetate et ordine, et 
Hypodiaconorum, qui ordo incertus est. Unde fit ut ille quandoque annumeretur inter 
sacros Ordines, quandoque non,*" etc. Ducange, Glossarium^ under KaUndae^ also 
mentions: ''Litterae Petri Capuani Cardinalis Legati in Francia, a.d. 1198, quibus praecipit 
Odoni Episcopo Parisiensi et aliquot Canonicis eiusdem Ecclesiae, ut hocce ' festum ' quod 
'Fatuorum' appellabatur, et in Ecclesia Parisiensi, ut in caeteris, invaluerat, penitus 
abolerent: quod dictus Episcopus aliique ad id nominati Commissarii executi sunt, facta 
ordinatione in Ecclesia deinceps observanda, quae habetur apud Gusanvillam post Notas ad 
Petrum Blesensem. lUud etiam interdixit Concilium Parisiense^ A. D. . 1 2 1 2, Part IV. , Can. xvL : 
*A festis vero foUorum, ubi baculus accipitur, omnino abstineatur.* Id est, baculus 
Episcopalis." About the end of these festivities the following remark b made by Ducange, 
Glossariunty imder Kaltndae\ **At in Gallia videtur desiisse, ex quo serio manum admovit 
Facultas Theologiae Parisiensis ann. 1444, 12 Martii, missa ad id Epistola encyclica ad 
Galliae Praesules, damnatoque, pleno Theologorum consessu, hocce fcsto, in quo Sacerdotes 
ipsi ac Clerici Archiepiscopum, aut Episcopum, aut *Papam* creabant, eumque * Fatuorum* 
appellabant : * Divini ipsius Officii tempore larvati, monstruosi vultibus, aut in vestibus 
mulierum, aut leonum, vel histrionum, choreas ducebant, in Choro cantilenas inhonestas 
cantabant, oflfas pingues supra cornu altaris juxta celebrantem Missam comedebant, ludum 
taxillorum ibidem exarabant, thurificabant de fumo foetido, ex corio veterum sotularium, et 
per totam Ecclesiam currebant, saltabant,* etc. Verba sunt citatae Epistolae, quam 
edidit Savaro, et ex eo Gussan villa.*' The boy bishop is a comparatively late development 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY lOi 

reference to the beginning of the year should bye and bye be transferred 
to the Calends of January, where we find them in the eighth and in the 
eleventh centuries.^ The passage evincing this Koegel for the first time 
satisfactorily explained in his Geschichte der deutschen Literatur? At New 
Year's eve people girt with their swords sat down on the roofs of their 
houses to find out what good and bad things would be brought by the 
new year. Others sat down at a cross road on a cow-hide. As was men- 
tioned before, this was called iiodorsdza or sitting down for the purpose of 
receiving an oracle, whilst the person who did so was called hleotharsdzzo 
(Keronic Glossary) or hleodarsizzeo (Hrabanic Glossary), which was thought 
to correspond to Latin negromantims,^ But this habit was not confined to 
the Calends of January, probably appearing at all holy tides, and certainly 
at the time of the waning of the moon, nor were oracles the only pur- 
pose of it, as it was resorted to for the cure of fever and probably of other 
illnesses. So say the sentences of Pope Gregory III. (731-741),* in which, 
among others, Janus is referred to as the god in whose honour the Iiodor- 
sdza is done. 



from this group of customs. Early documental evidence for it seems to be lacking entirely. 
Ducange, Glossariunty under fCaUndae, mentions an *'Inventarium omamentorum Ecclesiae 
Eboracensis, ann. 1530," in Monast, Anglic.^ Vol. III., p. 169, where we find : " Item una 
mitra parva cmn petris pro Episcopo puerorum," and **Item unus annulus pro Episcopo 
puerorum, et duo archys, unus in medio ad modum Crucis cum lapidibus in circum- 
ferentiis,*' etc 

*To a custom like that refers the following {Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., 
col. 1863, Gregorii Papae II. Capitulare (circa A.D. 720), ix.): " Ut incantationes, et 
fastidiationes, sive diversae observationes dierura Kalendarum, quas error tradidit paganorum, 
prohibeantur, sicut maleficia, et magorum praestigia, seu etiam sortilegium, ac divinantium 
observatio execranda." Burchard von Worms in Friedberg, Aus deutschen Bussbuchern, 
p. 84: "Vel in bivio sedisti supra taurinam cutem, ut et ibi futura tibi intelligeres ? " 

*Vol. I., p. 29. 

^ AUhochdeutsche Glossen,, I., 215, 33; II., 763, 9; II., 365, 35. 

*Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., col. 1875, Gregorii Papae III. Judida, 
xxiii : << Si quis maleficus aut malefica filium suum aut filiam supra tectum aut in 
fomace pro sanitate febrium posuerit, vel quando luna obscuratur ; vel clamoribus suis, 
vel maleficiis sacrilego usu se defensare posse confidunt, vel ut firater in honore Jovis vel 
Beli aut lani, secundum paganam consuetudinem, honorare praesumpserit, placuit secundum 
antiquam constitutionem sex annos poeniteant. Humanius tres annos judicaverunt." 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



lo4 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Other kinds of prophecy were by the observation of the moon,^ of the 
months, and of the effective potency of the several hours. Even the 
Church could not, in the long run, keep apart from the celebration of 
Calends. An ecclesiastical observance at the Calends existed at least in 
the middle of the ninth century.* At the Councils of Oxford, a.d. 
1222, and of Lyon, 1244, the Calends of January were, as Circumcisio 
Domini^ proclaimed a general festive day to be strictly kept by the 
Church. Johannes von HoUeschau ' speaks in 1426 of cakndisationes in 
a little treatise on Christmas called Largum Sero or Liberal Evenings 
which is a slight modification of a booklet written by a priest, Alsso, 
about A.D. 1400. Alsso even tells us more.* At the b^inning of every 
monUi the Bohemians carried about the image of their god Bel, singing 
a Czechic song. They rejoiced in the god thus visiting their houses, 
hoping faithfully that, in consequence, the whole month long he would 
send them good luck, and lead all their fortune and life. Therefore people 
brought gifts to the image of Bel, as it were a tribute, regarding themselves 
as his true worshippers in order that he might bring them luck. But 
St Adalbert, because it was too circumstantial to do so at the b^inning 
of every month, and in order that the Christians might not also celebrate 
the beginning of the months according to heathen custom, changed this 
celebration of the beginnings of months into a celebration of Christ's Nativity 
and of the week following it, thinking that it would be better to exercise 

* Acta Conciliorumy Parisiis, 1 714, Vol. VI., i., col. 207, Synodus Generalis jRodomi{dica. 
A.D. 878), xiii. : "Si quis in Kaleudis lanuariis aliquid fecerit, quod a Paganis inveDtum 
est, et dies observat, et lunam, et menses ; et horarum effectiva potentia aliquid sperat in 
melius aut in detenus verti, anathema sit" 

*Acla Ccnci/wrumf Parisiis, 1 7 14, Vol. V., col. 394, Hincmari Remmsis CapiHUa^ 
A.D. 852, xv. : *'Ut quando presb]^eri per Kalendas simul convenerint, post peractum 
divinum mysterium, et necessariam collationem, non quasi ad prandium ibi ad tabulam 
resideant, et per tales in convenientes pastellos se invicem gravent, quia inbonestum est, 
et onerosum. Sacpe enim tarde ad ecclesias suas redeuntes majus damnum de reprehensione 
conquirunt, et de gravedinc mutua contrahunt, quam lucrum ibi faciunt." A large number 
of quotations as to the monthly meetings of the clergy on the Calends are given by Ducange, 
Glossarium, under Kalendae, 

' Usener, Christlicker Festhrauch, Bonn, 1889, p. 72. 

* Usener, Ibid,, p. 63. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 103 

that habit in the time in which Christ was bom, than at the beginning of 
months, at which honour had once been bestowed upon Bel. He also is 
said to have altered the name and the sense of that celebration, making of 
kaUndisare colendisare (from colere^ to revere), because through that usage 
Christ was revered at his birthday, and not in the Calends. If this report 
does not imply that medieval Christmas in South Germany took the place 
of an older Calends celebration according to Roman usage, I do not know 
what it implies. The confusion in which the minds of both authors are 
is best shown by the fact that they not only regard the Calends rites as 
an imitation and distortion of Christmas rites caused by the devil, but 
at the same time inform us that up to St Adalbert's time the Calends 
alone prevailed, and that it was this Saint who transferred to Christmas the 
CalendisaHones or Calends processions, — two statements which are mutually 
exclusive.^ 

When the Chapters of Bishop Martin of Bracae, a.d. 5 7 5,2 forbade the 
faithful to observe dangerous Calends customs, to keep the heathen times 
of leisure, and to adorn their houses round about with laurel and green 
trees,* he rendered a very great service indeed to folklore, for this seems 
to be the only prohibition of that Calends custom which has come down to 
us, and it is not until eight hundred years later that we can show houses 
to have been adorned with green and trees at New Year and Christmas. 
It is told, however, of the Sabinian king Tatius, to whom by the legend 
a date is given about the middle of the eighth century b.c., that in 
winter he received branches of a happy or fortunate tree from the grove 
of Streniae as favourable omens with respect to the new year. It is true 
that story is told by a Roman writer of about 400 a.d., Q. Aurelius Sym- 



* Usener, Chrisilicher Festbrauch^ Bonn, 1889, p. 63. 

^ Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 399, CafiUula Martini Episcopi 
Bracmsis (drca a.d. 575), chap. Ixxiii. : **Non liceat iniquas observationes agere Kalen- 
danim, et otiis vacare gentilibus, neque lauro aut viriditate arborum cingere domos. Omnis 
haec observatio paganismi est" 

* Viriditate arborum can only mean the same as znridibus arboribus, and not "with green 
branches of trees"; viridiias never meaning leaves or branches, but referring simply to the 
colour. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



,04 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

machus, and it cannot therefore be r^arded as affording any evidence on 
a state of things twelve hundred years before that time. But the one 
thing certain from it is that, in the time of the Roman empire, there existed 
the habit of presenting to people, on the Calends of January, branches of 
trees for the sake of good luck in the new year.^ It is again solely from 
this custom that we learn the meaning of the adornment of houses with 

^ Rosinus, An4iquUcUum Romanarum Corpus Absoluiissimum^ (ed. Dempster, Genevae, 
1620), Lib. IV., chap, v., remarks: "Kalendas lanuarii laetis precationibus &ustum sibi 
invicem ominabantur teste, praeter Plinium et alios, Ovidio: 

*At cur laeta tuis dicuntur verba Kalendis, 
Et damus altemis, accipimusque preces.' 

Item munera sibi invicem mittebant boni ominis causa, videlicet caricas, coriotides, et 
mella, ut dulces dies anni a dulcibus rebus auspicarentur : et stipem, id est, nummum 
signatum : quae omnia simul strenas appellarunt : cuius rei origo ad ipsum T. Tadum regem 
a Symmacho refertur, quod is verbenas e luco Streniae Deae acceperit, significans strenuis 
viris istas deberi. Strenam, inquit Festus, vocamus, quae datur die religioso, ominis boni 
gratia, a numero, quo significatur alterum, tertiumque venturum similis commodi, veluti 
trenam, praeposita S. litera, ut in loco, et lite solebant antiqui. Constituta autem per 
C. Octavium Augustum Monarchia, hie mos inolevit, ut equites ac reliquus populus ipsis 
etiam Imperatoribus strenam Kalendis lanuarii conferrent: qua de re saepe loquitur 
Suetonius.'* The mention of Quintus Aurelius Symmachus refers to his Epistolatt lib. X., 
Ep. xxviii. : " Ab exortu paene urbis Martiae strenarum usus adolevit, auctoritate Tatii 
Regis, qui verbenas felicis arboris ex luco Strenuae anni novi auspices primus accepit, D.D. 
Imperatores. Nomen indido est viris strenuis haec convenire ob virtutem: atque ideo 
vobis huiusmodi insigne deberi ; quorum divinus animus magis testimonium vigilantiae 
quam omen expectat." The verbenae felicis arboris mentioned here played an important 
part in Roman ceremonies. Compare Ammianus Marcellinus, Lib. XXIX. : "Verbenas 
felicis arboris gestans." According to Servius, the term included branches of laurel, olive, 
and myrtles. A great number of instances are enumerated in the Lib. X. of the Miscellanies 
which accompany the Epistles of Symmachus, under Ep. xxviii., in the Paris edition of 
1604, by A. Fr. The Christian poet Metellus, in his Quirinales, has put into eloquent 
verse the passage quoted above from Symmachus: 

** Strenae praeterea nitent — Plures aureolae, munere regio, 
Olim Principibus probis — lani principiis auspicio datae, 
Fausto temporis omine — Ut ferret Ducibus strenua strenuis 
Annus gesta recentior. — Illas nobilitas Caesaribus piis. 
Rex dignis Procerum dabat. — Urbi quas latiae tum iuveni dedit 
Rex Titus Tatius prior, — Festas accipiens paupere mimere 
Verbenas studio Patrum. — SoUeres posteritas quas creat aureas. 
Servant dona tamen notam — A luco veteri nomine Strenuae." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE CALENDS OF JANUARY 105 

laurel and green trees in the sixth century. These things were put up as 
good omens for the luck of the year. Even later evidence of this custom 
is very scarce. That in Italy it lived on we know at the end of the 
fifteenth century, through Polydore Vergil, who says: "Trimmyng of the 
Temples with hangynges, floures, boughes, and garlandes, was taken of the 
Heathen people, whiche decked their Idoles and houses with suche arraye."^ 
In Germany the two fifteenth century witnesses for that usage come both 
from the Rhine country, from Strassburg, and both mention that at New 
Year's day the houses were adorned with green fir branches.^ 

In Strassburg it is also that, a hundred years later, the first Christmas ^ 
tree appears, a usage which seems to have sprung out of the union of the 
habit of adorning houses with green branches and trees according to 
Roman Calends custom, and of a Christian tenth century legend, according I 
to which, in the night when the Saviour was born, all trees bloom and I 
bring forth fruits in the forest. This legend can be proved to have been ' 
very popular in the Germany of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 

In England the same custom must have been popular, at least in the 
fifteenth century, even in the form of trees or artificial trees. "Against »^ 
the Feast of Christmas, euery mans house, as also their parish Churches, 
were decked with Holm, luy, Bayes, and whatsoeuer the season of the yeere 
aforded to be greene. The Conduits and Standards in the streetes were, 
likewise, garnished. Amongst the which, I read, that in the yeere i444> 

^ An abridgegment of the notable worke of Polidore VergUe^ by Thomas Langley, Lon- 
don, I55i» Book v., chap, i., fol. 98*. This remark refers to festivals in general. 

'Sebastian Brant, Narrenschiff^ 1494, 65, 37 ss. in Zamcke's edition, Leipzig, 1854, 
p. 64: 

** Vnd wer nit ettwas nuwes hat 
Vnd vmb das nuw jor syngen gat, 
Vnd gryen tann riss steckt in syn huss 
Der me3mt er leb das jor nit uss 
Als die Egyptier hieltten vor, 
Des glichen zuo dem nuwen jor 
Wem man nit ettwas schencken duot 
Der meynt das gantz jar werd nit guot." 
And Geiler von Kaisersberg, Die Emeis Dis ist das Buck von der Omeissen, Strassburg, 
Grieninger, 15 16. 



''v.Si^^i V 






Of r^^: 


■ < ' .- 


UNi 


^VtRi; 


iry , 


<l 


CF 


.y 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



io6 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

by tempest of thunder and lightning, on the first of February at night, 
Pauls steeple was fiered, but with great labour quenched, and toward the 
morning of Candlemas day, at the Leaden Hall in Comhill, a Standard 
of tree being set up in the midst of the pauement, fast in the ground, 
nayled full of Holme and luy, for disport of Christmas to the people, was 
tome up and cast downe by the malignant Spirit (as was thought), and the 
stones of the pauement all about were cast in the streets, and into divers 
houses, so that the people were sore aghast at the great Tempests."^ Gay, 
in his Trivia, sings: 

" When Rosemary and Bays, the poet's crown, 

Are bawl'd in frequent cries through all the town ; 

Then judge the festival of Christmas near, 
' Christmas, the joyous period of the year ! 

Now with bright Nolly all the temples strow 

With Laurel green, and sacred Mistletoe" 

And from that time on there is a complete continuity of tradition as re- 
gards the adornment of houses and churches by holly and ivy, evergreen 
and mistletoe, box and bay. There are the well-known fifteenth century 
carols about the contest between Holly and Ivy: 

** Holly and Ivy, Box and Bay, 
Put in the Church on Christmas day." 



'John Stow, The Survay of London (written A.D. 1598), London, 161 8, pp. 149, 150. 
On p. 667, Stow, speaking of a long pole preserved in Gisors or Gerrards Hall in the city, 
says: '*The Pole in the Hall might be vsed of old time (as then the custome was in 
euery Parish) to be set up in the Summer a May-Pole, before the prindpall house in the 
Parish or Street, and to stand in the Hall before the Serine, decked with Holme and luy 
at the Feast of Christmas. The Ladder serued for the decking of the May- Pole, and roofe 
of the Hall." To this he adds the marginal note : '* Euery mans house of old time was 
decked with Holly and luy in the winter, especially at Christmas." In the edition of 1598 
the passage is found on p. 284. Compare Ritson's Ancient Songs and Ballads^ 3rd ed., by 
Carew Haslitt, London, 1877, p. 113. This undeniable correspondence between Christmas 
customs and May customs in later times, which is also found in the servitude of woodlade or 
truncagium, is one of the conclusive proofe that Christmas has taken the place which had 
been held before by Martinmas. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER IX. 



TABULA FORTUNAE. 



Among the Roman Calends-of-January customs which were taken over 
by Germanic tribes there is one deserving special attention, because 
it gave rise to the belief, among modem mythologists, that the Germanics 
celebrated a festival of the dead about the darkest time of the year. In 
fact, this view in a certain sense replaced the alleged Germanic celebration 
of a winter solstice, in which Professor Weinhold and a few others still 
believe. When this view seemed to be no longer tenable, Professor 
Eugen Mogk yet thought it too daring to deny that the Germanics had 
had any festival about the middle of the winter, and assumed that there 
had been about that time some celebration in honour of the dead or 
ancestors. He took as the basis a rite which, at first sight no doubt, 
has the appearance of an offering to the dead, but in reality is of 
Mediterranean origin, having been known in the early centuries of our 
era from Egypt to Rome. 

Isaiah Ixv. ii says: "But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that 
forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that 
furnish the drink offering unto that number."^ Jerome ( + a.d. 420), in 

*The meaning of the Hebrew version is: ** Et vos qui dereliquistis dominum, et 
obliti estis montem sanctum meum. Qui ponitis fortunae mensam et libatis super earn " ; 
which, however, the Septuagint translated as meaning: "Vos autem qui dereliqubtis nc^e 
et obliti estis montis sancti mei, et paratis fortunae mensam : et impletis daemoni 
potionem." The English revised version of 1885 has: **But ye that forsake the Lord, 
that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for Fortune, and that fill up mingled 
wine unto Destiny." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



io8 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

his Commentary to Isaiah, remarks:^ "But there is in all towns, and 
most of all in Egypt and Alexandria, the old custom of idolatry that, on 
the last day of the year and of the last month, people erect a table full 
of eatables of various kind, and a cup mixed with mead, in order to try 
to find out the fertility either of the year past or the year to come. This 
also was done by the Israelites, who, adoring the portents of all ghosts, 
did not offer slain animals at the altar, but brought their offerings to a 
table of this kind." * In the Sermo de Sacril^'is, ascribed to St. Augustine 
( + A.D. 430), a penalty is threatened to anyone who, for the Calends of 
January, adorns the tables with loaves and other dishes.' The wandering 
to the north of that Table of Fortune can be traced through the mentions 
of it by St Eligius (588-659);* by Boniface in his letter to Pope Zacharias, 
of A.D. 742,*^ in which he testifies to that usage still existing both in Rome 
and among the Germans, with the consequence that it was interdicted at 
the Council of Rome a.d. 743;^ and by Burchard von Worms ( + A.D. 
1034).^ In his first reference the latter simply mentions the custom, but 

* Operum D. Huronymiy Quintus Tomus, Commtnlarios in Prophetas Quos Maiores 
Vocani Coniinety Basileae, 1537 (ed. Reuchlin), p. 240. 

^ *' Est autem in cunctis urbibus, et maxime in A^ypto, et in Alexandria idololatriae 
vetus consuetude: ut ultimo die anni et mensis eius qui extremus est, ponant mensam 
refertam varii generis epulis, et poculum mulso mixtum : vel praeteriti anni vel futuri 
fertilitatem auspicantes. Hoc autem faciebant Israelitae, omnium simulacrorum portenta 
venerantes: et nequaquam altari victimas, sed huiusce modi mensae liba fundebant." 

'§17: ''Quicunque in calendas ianuarias mensas panibus et aliis cybis omat" 

^ *' Nullus in caL Ian. nefanda aut ridiculosa, vetulas, aut cervulos, aut jotticos faciat, 
neque mensas super noctem componat, neque strenas aut bibitiones superfluas exerceat" 
Grimm, Deutsche Mythologies Aberglatibe A. 

^ Acta Conciliorumy Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 1880: "Mensas ilia die vel nocte 
dapibus onerare." 

^ Acta Conciliorum, Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 1929, Concilium Romanum^ I., 
A.D. 743, ix. : '< Ut nullus Kalendas Januarias et broma colere praesumpserit, aut 
mensas cum dapibus in domibus praeparare." 

'' Decreta^ Coloniae, 1548, I93': "Observasti calendas januarias rilu Paganonim, 
ut vel aliquid plus faceres propter novum annum, quam antea vel post soleres fieu:ere, 
ita dico, ut aut mensam tuam cum dapibus vel epulis in domo tua praeparares eo 
tempore, aut per vicos et plateas cantores et choros duceres"; and p. 198*: "Fecisti 
ut quaedam mulieres in quibusdam temporibus anni facere solent, ut in domo tua 
mensam praeparares et tuos dbos et potum cum tribus cultellis supra mensam poneres, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



TABULA FORTUNAE 109 

in the second he adds an explanation, which shows a further evolution of 
the Table of Fortune into an offering to the goddesses of fate. The further 
we advance, the more distinct that belief grows, and is shifted to Epiphany 
and then to Christmas. About the middle of the thirteenth century, 
Martin von Amberg, in his Gewissensspiegely tells that people on the eve 
of Epiphany put food and drink on the table for Percht with the iron 
nose;* and the poem "Von Berhten mit der langen nase"* seems to 
allude to a very similar custom. 

In the fifteenth centur}% in the Thesaurus Pauperum^ the old Egyptian 
and Italian custom from the eve of the Calends of January has, like the 
sacredness of that day, become part and parcel of German folk-belief. Some 
of the ancient goddesses of the people have become connected with the 
new holy tide, extending from December 25 to January 6, and are supposed 
to be honoured by that alleged sacrifice. So it is in other parts of the 

' country, for example in Bohemia, where the custom was transferred to 
Christmas eve, as the report shows which is given in Presbyter Alsso's 

, Largum Sero of 1426,* Money and trinkets were built up on a table, people 
believing that thus they would increase. Below the dishes coins were laid 
for the same purpose. He tells : " The fourth custom is, that on Christmas 
eve people eat a large and lengthy roll. . . . We use for it leaven to make 



ut si venissent tres illae sorores, quas antiqua posteritas et antiqua stultitia Parcas 
nominavit, ibi reficerentur. Et tulisti divinae pietati potestatem suam, et nomen 
suum, et diabolo tradidisti, ita dico, ut crederes illas quas tu dicis esse sorores tibi 
posse aut hie aut in future prodesse." 

* Grimm, Deutsche Mythologies 2nd ed. , p. 256 : " Percht mit der eisnen nasen an der 
Perchtnacht,*' 

* My Gesckichte der deutschen Weihnacht^ 1893, PP* 4^ ^^^ 3o7» 

^ Codex TegemseeensiSf 434, Ulrich Jahn, Deutsche Opfergebrauche^ Breslau, 1884, p. 282: 
** Multi credunt sacris noctibus inter natalem diem Christi et noctem Epiphaniae evenire ad 
domos suas quasdam mulieres, quibus praeest domina Perchta. . . . Multi in domibus in 
noctibus praedictis post coenam dimittunt panem et caseum, lac, cames, ova, vinum et 
aquam et huiusmodi super mensas et coclearea, discos, ciphos, cultellos et similia propter 
visitationem Perhtae cum cohorte sua, ut eos complaceant . . . ut inde sint eis propitii ad 
prosperitatem domus et negotiorum rerum temporalium." On similar statements about such 
seeming offerings, compare Schmeller, Bayrischfs Worterbuch^ 2nd ed., I., p. 270. 

* Edited by H. Usener, Christlicher Festbrauch, Bonn, 1889. 



\ 
Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



no YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

it tastier. Old and honourable people of orthodox belief and fair mind 
on that night put those large rolls on the tables, and dishes and knives 
beside them, permitting their family, if they choose, to eat it or to leave it 
to the poor. — I am sorry to say that in that custom, as in the rest, the 
devil has invented a great illusion in his own favour; for, as I was told, 
in some regions the Christians put the rolls and knives on the tables and 
dishes, not for the praise of the childhood of Christ, but in order that in 
the night the gods might come and eat them. But that is a gross delusion 
of the heathens who have many gods ; faithful Christians, however, have one 
only. And it is rather a gross conception that those spirits, which are 
demons, should eat bodily food — being spirits."^ 

Not much later, about the middle of the fifteenth century, a very similar 
custom was observed in the Monastery of Scheyem near Pfaffenhofen. There 
at Christmas a plough was put under the table, and a Frau Perihaihch was 
prepared.* This custom lived on German soil till close to the present 
time. In Kamthen, on the eve of Epiphany, bread and a pie were put 
outside for BerchtL If she comes and eats of it, there will be a good year. 
At Vordemberg, Ober-Steiermark, milk and bread, after people have eaten 
some of it, are placed in the porch for Berschte^ whilst all the inner doors are 
locked. In the morning milk and bread have disappeared. In other parts 
of the same region food is left on the table for the Ferstcln, in order that 
they may not hurt people.* That the Perchten represent a plurality is evident 
from the form Geperchten^ in which ge is the collective prefix.* 

*Usener, Chrisilicker Fesibrauch, Bonn, 1889, pp. 51-58. 

^ Merkzettel fUr die BekhU aus Kloster ScJuyertiy written 1468 and 1469, ed. by Usenet in 
his Christlicher Festbrauch, Bonn, 1889, p. 83, ss. 

'M. Lexer in Wolfs Zeitschrifi^ IV., p. 300 j Karl Weinhold, WeiknachtspieU^ p. 25; 
Schmeller, Bayrischts Wdrterbmhy 2nd ed., I., p. 271. The items were collected by Ulrich 
Jahn, Deutsche Opfergebratuhe bet Acker bau und Viehzucht, Breslau, 1884, p. 283, where 
more modem cases of the same custom are mentioned. 

^An dem geperchtentag den man haizet der tweifte^ 1334, Innicher StiftsarchiVf 
Grotefend, Zeitrechnung, I., 73. The BacheltcLg^ bachtag^ however, or day preceding 
Christmas, which Schmeller- Fromman, Bayrisches Worterbuch, 271, 194, and Grotefend, 
Zeitrechnungy I., 14, derive from Berehta, is dies baculi episcopalis (compare the note 
on p. 100), the day on which children are "driven out of school," because the Christmas 
vacation begins. The same is the case with Bdchlboschen, Bavarian Benhta seems to 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



TABULA FORTUNAE 



III 



There are sundry other fifteenth century cases on record.^ A sixteenth 
century report shows the purely Christian evolution of this custom. On 
the distribution of the Epiphany cake, besides all the members of the household, 
Christ, the Virgin, and the holy three kings also get their piece,^ while here 
and there the Table of Fortune has been preserved rather more purely, 
the three kings merely taking the place of Berchta, In Rothenkirchen, 
Frankenwald, the peasant, before going to bed on the eve of Epiphany, 
puts even now on his table a loaf and a jug of water, inviting the three 
kings to be his guests. In the Saxony of the seventeenth century, bread 
and knives were laid on the table.^ In other regions the same custom has 
been shifted to St. Andrew's night, and appears together with a prophecy 
about a girl's future husband or a man's future wife,* or has been preserved at 
Christmas eve as a completely set dinner table.^ 

About the beginning of our century it was "customary, among the 
peasants in the north of Europe, at Christmas-time, to make bread in the 
form of a boar-pig. This they placed upon the table, with bacon and 



be simply another name for Saxonio-Thuringian Holda ; the former being now derived from 
Gothic bcdrgan, German verbergen, to hide ; the latter from Old-High-German helatit New- 
High-German verhehlen^ to hide ; and both names appearing also as names of a whole 
host of inferior female deities, the latter frequently in die Holden^ Hulderiy or HoUm, 
beside Frau HolU^ the former at least in the word Geperchtentcig mentioned above. 

1 *• Also versUnden sich ouch, die an der Perchtnacht der Percht speiss opfemt und dem 
schietlein, von der Hagen's Gemiania^ I., 349, 356; XL, 64; Die am ersten jar monden 
des abentz ein tisch mit guter speiss seczen die nacht den schretelen," Codex Germanicus 
AfonacensiSf 234, f. 152"*, of 1458 j Panzer, Beitrage zur deutschen MythologU^ H., p. 262, 2, 
from "Buch der zehen gebot, sprliche der lehrer, tafelder christlichen weisheit," of 1458; and 
"Die am jahrsstag dez abentz einen tisch mit guter speyss setzen die nacht der schretlein," 
Codex Germanicus Monacensis^ 523, fol. 233; Panzer, Beilrdge zur deutschen Mytkohgiey 
n., p. 263, 3, from "Epitome brevis ex sacris libris mosaicis de creatione coeli et terrae." 
In modem times the table remained set at Christmas eve in Silesia, in order that the poor 
souls, or the angels, might come and eat of the food; Peter, VolkstUmlicheSt H., p. 274; 
Wdnhold, Weihnachtspiele^ p. 25 ; Ulrich Jahn, Deutsche Opfergebrauche, p. 286. 

"Sebastian Franck, Weltbuch, 1567, Part L, fol. 50. 

' Praetorius, Saturnalia, 1663. 

* Englien und Lahn, Der Volksmund in der Mark Brandenburg, Berlin, 1868, p. 237. 

^ Schulenbuig, Wendische Volksagen und Gebrduche at*s dem Spreewald^ Leipzig, 1880, 
p. 248. This table is by mythologists of the older generation taken as devoted to the 
ancestors (Wolff- Mannhardt, Zeitschrift fUr Mythologie, HI., 123). 



Digitized by 



Google 



112 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Other dishes : and, as a good omen, they exposed it as long as the feast 
continued. To leave it uncovered was reckoned a bad omen, and totally 
incongruous to the manners of their ancestors. They called this kind of 
bread JulagaW ^ 

At the time when the Table of Fortune began to be regarded as 
an offering to certain spirits, the prophecy which had been connected with 
it was disconnected from it and evolved into a self-dependent custom. 
The same Strenae or sweet cakes, which we know from Tertullian ( + a.d. 220),* 
as found on the Saturnalia^ Brumalia^ and Calends of January, and the 
rising of which was regarded as a favourable omen for the new year, appear 
again in the sixth century in Gaul. There, as in the south three hundred 
years before, the baking of them was observed for the sake of fortune- 
telling, wherefore the Church called them devilish.' 

About A.D. 700 these Strenae had been transferred to Christmas, and 
were eaten in honour of the Virgin Mary, or rather in commemoration of 
her afterbirth, a view to which the Council of TruUus of a.d. 706 took 
serious objection, punishing the rite with death in the case of its 
being practised by a priest, and with excommunication in the case of the 
heretic and blasphemer being a layman. It declared in its Canon Ixxix. : 
*' Confessing that He who came into existence without seed of man, was 
bom from the Virgin without afterbirth, and announcing this to the entire 
flock, we subject to correction those who from ignorance do anything which 
is not decent For because some are shown to bake a cake after the day 
of the holy birth of Christ our God and to divide the same amongst one 
another, that is, under the pretext of honour to the afterbirth of the immaculate 
Virgin mother, we decree that henceforth nothing of the kind be done 
by the faithful. For this is no honour to the Virgin — who, beyond under- 
standing and speech, gave birth in the flesh to the Word that cannot be 



*Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language^ Paisley, 1882, Vol. IV., 
p. 865**, after l^ercl. Not, ad Hervarar Saga, p. 139. 

^De JdolcUria, chap. xiv. 

' ** Non licet Kalendis lanuarii vetula, aut cervolo facere, vel strenas diabolicas observare: 
sed in ipsa die sic omnia beneficia tribuantur, sicut et reliquis diebus." Acta Conciliorumy 
Parisiis, 1 7 14, Vol. III., col. 444, Synodm Autissiodoremis^ a.d. 578, I. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



TABULA FORTUNAE 



"3 



understood — to define, measure, and describe her unutterable birthgiving 
accordmg to common births and what happens in ourselves. If therefore 
anybody will attempt to do so again, he shall die, if he be cleric ; and he 
shall be excommunicated, if he be a layman."* At the time of the Council 
of Trullus that question had occupied the most serious attention of the 
Church for several centuries. In the Decrees of Pope Hormisdas (514-523) 
those problems are treated most thoroughly.^ Another instance occurs in 
passage iii. of the Lateran Council of a.d. 649, under Pope Martin I.,^ 

"^ Acta Conciliorumt Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., col. 1690, Concilium Qwmsex/um site in 
Trullo^ A.D. 706, Canon Ixxix. : ''o^'. ^hXhxaxnw rhw ix tits irapBivov $€iw t6ko¥ 6/aoXo- 
you¥T€s tis Kal &<nr6p<at <rwrrdi^o, koX warrl nf woi/ju^ltfi Ktip&rrwret, ro^ i^ dyvolat irpdiroPTds 
rt rwy ot) deSrrufv diop$(»xT€i Kudirwo^tUXKotup , 6$€v iireidTJ rwes iJutrh. riiv ijfUpaM r^ a^^at rod 
Qtov iifjuar y€Pir/f(r€<as SetKyvrrcu ae^SaXuf iypomny koX Tn&njvaKKiiKoit /ieradtddrrei TfHxpdffet rtfirfs 
8rj$€P \ox^iwp T^s dxpdyrov irap$€POfiiiTOpot, bpl^oiup fiffiip roiovroy inr6 rwp in.<rrC^ rtKelffdai, 
o(f ydp TLfiij ye rovro rj wap$4p<fif rj inrkp pow koI Xiycuf rb dx^priTOv reKoi^axi \6yop ffapxl, ix tQp 
KOiPiOP T€ KoX KoB^ iifJMt tA icotA t6p Aiffftourrop a(rrrjs t6kop 6pl^€ip xal (fwoypd^ip, et rit oft' dir6 rod 
PUP Tpdrrtap tolovt^ rt ^pa$elrf, tl fitp KXrfpiKbs etrf, KaBaipelffBca. el di XoXk^, dipopi^Mta.** 
Ixxix. : " Absque uUis secundis ex Virgine partum esse confitentes ut qui sine semine 
constitutus sit, idque toti gregi annuntiantes, eos, qui propter ignorantiam aliquid faciunt 
quod non decet, correctioni subiicimus. Quare quoniam aliqui post sanctae Christi Dei 
nostri nativitatis diem similam coquere ostenduntur, et earn sibi invicem impertiri, honoris 
scilicet praetextu secundinarum impoUutae Virginis matris, statuimus, ut deinceps nihil tale 
fiat a fidelibus. Neque enim hoc honor est Virginis, quae supra mentem et sermonem, quod 
comprehendi non potest Verbum peperit came, ex communibus et iis quae in nobis fiunt, 
inenarrabilem ejus partum definire, metiri, ac describere. Si quis ergo deinceps hoc facere 
agressus fuerit, si sit quidem clericus, deponatur: si vero lalcus, s^regatur." 

^Acfa Cimci/iorum, Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. II., col. 1014, iiL : "Proprium quoque Filii Dei, 
ut juxta id quod scriptum est, in novissimis temporibus Verbum caro fifret, et habitaret in 
nobis X intra viscera sanctae Mariae Virginis genitricis Dei unitis utrisque sine aliqua 
confiisione naturis : ut qui ante tempore erat Filius Dei, fieret filius hominis ; et nasceretur 
ex tempore hominis more, matris vulvam natus non aperiens, et virginitatem matris deitatis 
virtute non solvens. Dignum plane Deo nascente mysterium, ut servaret partum sine 
corruptione, qui conceptum fecit esse sine semine : servans quod ex Patre erat, et 
repraesentans quod ex matre suscepit.*' 

' Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents Relating to Great Britain 
and Ireland^ Oxford, 1 87 1, VoL III., p. 146: " De Beata Virgine. Si quis secundum 
sanctos patres non confitetur proprie et secundum veritatem Dei genitricem sanctam semperque 
virginem et immaculatam Mariam, utpote ipsum Deum Verbum specialiter et veraciter, qui 
a Deo Patre ante omnia saecula natus est, in ultimis saeculorum absque semine concepisse ex 
Spiritu Sancto, et incorruptibiliter eam genuisse, indissolubili permanente et post partum 
ejusdem virginitate, condemnatus sit" 

H 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



114 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



the canons of which were brought from Rome to Great Britain by John 
the Precentor, and adopted by the Council of Hatfield, a.d. 680. 

About the year 1000, in Germany, loaves were baked in the name of 
special persons. When they rose very high, it was considered a sign of 
prosperity in the new year; and when they did not rise, it was deemed 
prophetic of bad luck.^ In the course of time these customs developed 
and took a great variety of forms. When the Chiurch transferred the 
beginning of the year from the Calends of January to Christmas, these 
usages were also transferred thither, where we find them in the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries.^ Another usage was to measure water into a pot 
on the eve of December 25, and again next morning. If its quantity had 
increased, it was supposed to be an indication of a plentiful year ; if it was 
just the same, an average harvest was expected; and if less than before, 
it was the announcement of a poor year. 

About 1800, in Scotland, on Christmas morning, one of the family used 
to rise before the rest and prepare food for them, which had to be eaten 
in bed. This frequently consisted of cakes baked with eggs, called care- 
cakes. A bahnock or cake was baked for every person in the house. If 
any one of these broke in the toasting, the person for whom it was baked 
would not, it was supposed, see another Yule.^ 

It is no wonder that mythologists who did not know the passage from 
Jerome should have taken this custom for an offering to the dead or the 
chthonic deities of the Germanic tribes. But it is not true that the 

*In ih^Dfcrefa of Burchard von Worms ( + 1024), Coloniae, 1548, p. 193*, Ulrich 
Jahn, Deutsche Opfergebrduche^ Breslau, 1884, p. 280, the question is put about New 
Yeai^s eve : " Vel si panes praedicta nocte coquere fecisti tuo nomine : ut si bene 
elevarentur, et spissi et alti fierent, inde prosperitatem tuae vitae eo anno praevideres." 

'Grimm, Deutsche Mythologies Ab^glaube F, No. 43, from an Austrian MS. of 
the Monastery of St Florian : ** Item an dem weihnachtabend noch an dem rauchen 
so messent die lewt 9 leffl wasser in ain hefen, vnd lassent es sten vncz an den tag 
vnd messent herwider auf. 1st sein mynner das dy mass nicht ganz ist, so chumpt es 
des jars in armUt 1st sy gancz so pestet es. 1st sein aber mer, so wirt es vberflussi- 
kleich reich." In the sixteenth century J. Golems, CaUndarium Oeconomieum et Perpehtum, 
Wittenberg, 1591 ; and in the seventeenth century Praetorius, Saturnalia, Leipzig, 1663, 
p. 407, bear testimony of the same custom. Ulrich Jahn, Deutsche Offergebrauche, p. 284. 

'Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, under "Yule," vii. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



TABULA FORTUNAE 115 

chthonic and wind-deities, Wodan, Holda, Perchta, did by preference hover 
about Christmas, as Professor Mogk thinks.^ Plain statistics show that they 
appear with about equal frequency at all seasons of the year. Nor can 
the later popular belief of Germany be adduced in favour of a Germanic 
festival of the dead about the beginning of January, because apparitions of 
spirits do not occur in any larger percentage about the time of Christmas 
than at any other time of the year, and more especially the Christmas 
rides of the wild huntsman and his host cannot be proved to be older than 
the sixteenth century. The mummings and masquerading of men in guise of 
animals, by covering themselves with hides — ^although Professor Mogk takes 
them for a kind of artificial appearance of souls of the dead in beast 
shape — are, as far as they appear in old Gaul and the farthest west of 
old Germany, in the form of a general masquerade, of Roman origin, 
as has been shown above. 

The dressing up of artificial animals, however, which is found all 
over German soil, from Martinmas till mid-Lent — confined in olden days 
to the time about Martinmas, extended from the sixteenth century to 
about Christmas, and since then prolonged till mid-Lent— is a slaughtering 
custom, probably of purely Germanic growth. Originally the real animals 
destined to be killed were dressed up, whilst bye and bye, in part at least, 
artificial animals were placed in their stead. The domestic male animals 
which had been kept for stud purposes to the close of the season were 
killed at the beginning of December — December 5 being, in ancient Tirol, 
the day for killing the boar. The slaughtering of these animals was a 
kind of public affair, since, wherever the Markgenossenschaft existed, only 
one bull, one stallion, and one boar were kept for the whole community, 
so that those who, not being members of the community, wished to use 
the animal for their own herds had to pay extra for it^ 



^Hans Meyer's Deutsches Volkstum, Leipzig, 1898, p. 292. 

2 This state of things survived in Tyrol down to 1800: "Hat der Stammser zehend 
und der Mathias Walch . . . ieder einen brauchbaren herdstier alter observanz 
nach, und ein ieweilliger herr pfiurer den s. v. schwilch zu stollen, deren der eine 
von Martini, bis mann mit dem rever klievich am langets auflBsdirt, und der andere 
von Martini an bis st. Peters tag dienen muss, hingegen aber sind diese 2 stier in denen 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Il6 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

That Nicolaus — familiar to English children as Santa Claus — is not a 
ghost of a dead person, as Dr. Mogk thinks, need scarcely be proved ; and 
that Knecht Ruprecht (German Father Christmas), who has so long been 
thought a descendant of Wuotan Hruodperaht (Wodan shining in glory) 
merely represents a type of a man servant, and had originally nothing 
whatever to do with Christmas, was proved by myself in 1894.^ In 1832 
H. Hoffmann published, in the Anzeiger fur die Kunde der deutschen Vorzeit^ 
a conversation between master and servant, in which the servant has the 
name Ruprecht^ being called " Knecht Ruprecht'' The conversation, which 
belongs to the sixteenth century, stands in no connection with Christmas 
customs. In 1847 J* Scheible, in the third volume of his Schaltfahr^ 
reprinted a fly-leaflet in quarto of the time about 1530, which is called : 
*^ Ein Gesprdch von den gemeineti Schwabacher Kasien^ ah durch Bruder 
Heinrich^ Knecht Ruprecht^ Kdmmerin^ Spuler^ und ihrem Meister^ des 
Handwerks der wollen TuchmacherJ* Here also are master and servant 
contrasted. Here also every connection with Christmas is lacking. Here 
also Knecht Ruprecht is simply a Knecht^ a servant, who might as well be 
named Knecht alone. From these two cases his popular significance 
appears very clearly : he is the popular type of a servant, and has exactly 
as much individuality of social rank and as little personal individuality 
as the Junker Hanns and the Bauer Michel^ the characters representative 
of country nobility and peasantry respectively. The probable cause of the 
combination is the rime of Knecht and Ruprecht, For a whole century after 
his first appearance this Knecht Ruprecht has no relationship to any Christmas 
customs. The first instance in which, so far as I know, he appears in 
a Christmas play is a printed Niimberg Christmas procession play, the 
only copy of which known to me is preserved at the Royal Library of 
Berlin. It is printed in 1668, and in it he appears as the servant of 



gemeinds-alpen, wo sie wollen, frei zu sommem, 1801. Fliess-Oberinnthal," Zingerle 
and Inama-Steraegg, Die Tirolischen WdstUmery II. , 234. About the payment of non-members 
of the community, compare Vol. III., p. 182. A more extensive explanation of these economic 
matters is contained in my Geschichte der deutschen Weihnacht^ Leipzig, 1893, pp. 27-30 
and 297. 

"^ Die Zuhinft^ Berlin, 1894, I left 12, Winiersonnetrwende, p. 551. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



TABULA FORTUNAE 117 

Holy Christ The list of characters calls him KindUinfresser^ and Christ 
addresses him as Acesto. But the stage directions call him Ruprecht^ 
and he himself says to Holy Christ about the children : " Christe^ Du thusi 
recht daran, — Dass Du keine Bitt nimmst an, — Ich Dein Knecht — Der 
Ruprechty — WiU sit striegein — Und zerprugeln*^ Through these little printed 
plays, Knecht Ruprecht as a character of Christmas procession plays became 
popular so quickly, that as early as 1680 his appearance could be interdicted 
by law, and the term Rupert became identical with spirit from below, 
so that a minister could say about these popular Christmas processions, 
that in the suite of Christ there went about, ^^ etliche Rupert oder verdammte 
Geister:'^ 

Hitherto no proof has been given that the drinking in honour of the 
dead, the so-called drinking of Minne^ was confined to, or even 
prevalently occurring on, a hypothetical Germanic mid-winter festival. As 
far as I know, alfablbt and disabl6t, offerings for elves and geniae never 
occur in the description of any early Scandinavian Yule festival, so that an 
argument as to the Scandinavian Yule festival being a dead-festival cannot 
be based upon that fact. These offerings took place late in winter, or 
towards the end of winter, but not at midwinter, which, in the later 
terminology, would be identical with "at Yule-tide."' And if in late 
sources even giants are said to have taken part in Yule feasting, it is 
difficult to see how this can support the supposition that the Yule feast 
was a festival for the dead.* If Professor Mogk explained the Voigtlandic 



'^ {Drechsuler) Curibser Bericht wegen der schdndlichen Weynacht Larven^ so man 
imgemein HHligen Christ nennet^ herausgegeben Von MM., Dressden und Leipzig, 1702. 
There seems to be an older Latin edition of this pamphlet: Christianorum Larvas 
naialitias Sancti Christi nomine commendatas post evolutam originem confodit stylo 
theologico conscientiosus Christi cultor Chresulder (ed. auctior cum apologia, Lipsiae anno 
1677, i^*)> which I, however, have never seen. 

' Minnetrinken ; minne has the same stem with Latin memini and Greek fuftHicKU), 

' According to the Olafssaga ins Helga, 80, Sighvatr the Scald came late in winter to a 
farm in which alfabUt was celebrated (Mogk, Mythologie in Paul's Grundriss der ger- 
manischen Philologies L, 1126). 

^Ibid.^ according to Maurer, Bekehrung des norwegischen Stammes zum Christenium^ 
Mllnchen, 1855-56, IL, 235. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Il8 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

name Unternachte as being the nights of the subterranean beings, of the 
" Unterirdischen** I as early as 1893^ proved that to be erroneous; and 
it makes evident Professor Weinhold's carelessness that he, in his review 
of my book,2 accuses me of following Mogk in his erroneous explanation.* 
Whether there was a Germanic commemoration tide for the dead is 
very uncertain. Shrovetide has been supposed to be the period, and 
that festive time a relic of it It is true, besides the Scandinavian 
customs just mentioned, we have express testimony from the sixth century 
that it was at February 22, when the Germanics made offerings to their 
dead.^ But therein they followed again the course of the Romans, whose 
festival of the dead, the Ferialia^ was held on February 21. 



^ Geschichte der deutschen Weihnacht, p. 282 : *• Der Voigtlandische Name * Unter- 
nachte,' den Mogk, Mythologies 1 126 (Paul's Grundriss der gemumischen Philologie^ i89i> 
I.), als Nachte der Toten deutet, bedeutet nur *Nachtc vor dem Feste' (vor Epiphanias 
[das oberster Tag heisst: Oberster tag, obrister tag, obroster tag, oberstag, uberster tag, 
zu obersten, am hailigen obersten, Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des Mittelcdters und der Neuueity 
1 89 1, I., p. 137]) wie *unter Mittag' eigentlich die 2^it unmittelbar vor Mittag, *ttber 
Mittag' die Zeit unmittelbar nach Mittag bedeuten, bis dann beide ' um Mittag ' heissen. So 
heisst Weihnachten lateinisch sub calendas januarias(BeatusRhenanus, Rer, Gtrm,y\j&i, III. )." 

^ZeUschrifi des Vereins fUr Volkskunde, 1874, Heft I., p. 100. 

'"Nur wolle man das nicht, wie £. Mogk, und ihm nach A. Tille thun, durch den 
vogtlandischen Namen der Zwolften UntemiUhte beweisen, der nichts als ZvnschemAx^X.t 
bedeutet: die Nachte zwischen Weihnacht und Epiphanias." After the examples oi oberster 
tag I gave above, I need scarcely state that Weinhold's explanation as ** ZwiscAennaeAte** 
is probably wrong also. In Hans Meyer's Deutsches Volkstutn, Leipzig, 1898, p. 292, 
Professor Mogk repeated the error that the ancient Germanics celebrated a dead festival 
in the darkest time of the year, but gave up his former explanation of Untemachie^ 
adopting instead the explanation suggested by Professor Weinhold. 

^ Acta Conciliorumy Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 365, Concilium TUronense 1/,^ 
A.D. 567, xxii. : " Sunt etiam qui in festivitate cathedrae domni Petri apostoli dbos mortuis 
offerunt, et post missas redeuntes ad domos proprias, ad gentilium revertuntur errores, et 
post corpus Domini, sacratas daemoni escas accipiunt Contestamur iUam solidtudinem 
tarn pastores quam presbyteros gerere, ut quemcumque in hac &tuitate persistere viderint 
vel ad nesdo quas petras, aut arbores, aut ad fontes, designata loca gentilium, perpetrare 
quae ad ecclesiae rationem non pertinent ; eos ab ecclesia sancta auaoritate repellant, nee 
partidpare sanao altario permittant, qui gentilium observationes custodiunt." The same 
habit seems referred to in caput Ixix. of the Capitula Martini Episcopi Bracarensis^ Ibid,^ 
Vol. III., col. 398: '*Non liceat Christianis prandia ad defiinctorum sepulchra deferre, et 
sacriticare de re mortuorum " (about A.D. 575). 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CHAPTER X. 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST. 



For centuries after Julius Caesar had ordered the winter solstice to take 
place on December 25, ihe^ruma/ia^ celebrated at that date, could not 
compete in splendour with the Calends of January. Their later fame 
and significance they owe not to ancient Rome, but to the new religion 
which, since the first century of our era, was spreading in all directions from 
Palestme. They owe it to Christianity. The year in which the two, 
Brumalia and Christianity, were brought into contact by an energetic Roman ^ ^ 4 

bishop was a.d. 354. 

The historicaTdate of Christ's birth is unknown ; and though some early 
fathers of the Church tried to find out by speculation at what date He ought 
to have been bom, the matter apparently lacked interest for the Church. 
November 17 and March 28 were contended for, but without any success, as 
the date oTlhe miraculouT birth in the stable at Bethlehem. Clemens of — 
Alexandria was as little able to gain authority for the former date as a writing "^ 
on Easter ascribed to Cyprian was to gain it for the latter. 

'The early Church did not regard Christ as a God from birth, but merely 
as having become one when He was thirty years old, and when the Holy 
Ghost descended upon Him at the baptism in Jordapy Distinct traces of 
that dogma are even preserved in the common text of the New Testament,^ 

* Gospel according to Si. Matthew^ i. 16, where, for the purpose of proving that Christ 
was a descendant of David, it is shown that His father Joseph was such : " And Jacob begat 
Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was bom Jesus, who is caUed Christ." The medieval . 
Church noticed this incongruity, and got over it by decreeing that Mary had been a cousin '^ 
of Joseph's, and consequently of the same stock as he was. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



lio VULE AND CHRISTMAS 

the Gospels of St. Mark and St John beginning with that story, as being 
the first important event in Christ's career. ; The festival in commemoration 
of the deification of Christ was Epiphany — the festival of Christ's appearance 
in the glory of God, as it was called later. Along with Easter and Pentecost 
it is, in the early Church, named as one of the three greatest Church festivals. 

About the beginning of the third century there arose in the Western 
countries a new opinion on the person of the Saviour. He was now held to 
^ have been a God from birth. His Father having been God Himself. It was the 
Church of Rome which made itself the advocate of this doctrine, and evolved 
the necessary basis for it in her own Gospel, which is called "according to 
St. Luke/' Within little more than a century that new dogma conquered the 
countries round the Mediterranean, though it seems never to have reached 
the far East. In the face of that view it could scarcely any longer appear 
proper to celebrate the memory of the deification of Christ in the festival 
of Epiphany on January 6. It was the Roman Bishop Liberius (a.d. 352-366) 
who had the courage to draw the consequence from the new belief. On 
ly January 6, 354, he celebrated, as before, the appearance of Christ in God-like 
glory, but in the same year he celebrated a second birthday of the God 
in Christ on December 25, and used henceforth all his authority to lead this 
new festival to victory throughout the whole Church. The mere choice of 
the day shows that the step which was taken had been considered well 
beforehand.*/ 

The assumed days of solstices and equinoxes were days with regard to 
which the Julian calendar had not been consistent Whilst attaching all 
possible importance to them and making them the measure of the duration 
of the year, it did not make them the beginnings of months, nor the winter 
solstice the beginning of the year. Its year rather b^an seven days (or, as 
it was counted then, eight days) after the winter solstice. When Bishop 
Liberius made his choice of a new birthday for the Redeemer, he was no 
doubt conscious of the fact that thereby he would get into his hands a 

^Christ's birthday on December 25 is first mentioned in the chronology of Furius 
Dionysius Filocalus (Usener, Das Weihnachtsftst^ Bonn, 1889, p. 267), where the year 
begins with December 25, and the entry: "viiL Kl. ianu. natus Christus in Betleem 
Judeae." 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST 121 

means of beating, in the long run, the entire Roman calendar — an idea for 
which the Church fought for a whole millennium, though without ever winning 
a complete victory ; so that the doctrinaire and unpractical Roman beginning 
of the year, though a little reformed by a Pope himself, now rules the time 
wherever Christian civilisation has come. But the new festival at least 
conquered, or did even more. Whilst Easter, having a basis beyond the--^ 
world of the Roman calendar, and therefore being something strange 
to the Western world, gave rise to endless discussions about the proper date 
of its celebration and to two different traditions,^ Christmas from its very 
first origins bore the mark of being a Roman creation, stood firmly on the 
basis of the Roman* system of the year, and in the course of time even 
managed to shake that very system, by jnaking itself the beginning of the 
year instead of the Roman Calends of January. Up to the time of the 
Reformation its sanctity was never disputed, neither was its historical 
foundation attacked, so that, if not outshining in splendour Easter and 
Whitsunday, it soon gained a position certainly equal to theirs. 

fWith the triumph won by the belief of Athanasius and the heirs of St 
Peter at Rome, the new custom of the Roman Church came to the East 
In Constantinople the first festival of Christ's birth on December 25 was 
celebrated in 379, in Nyssa of Cappadocia in 382, in Antioch in 388.^ 
It took about a century and a half to win for it legal authority among the 
Eastern Germanics.) By the commentary to the Law Book of Alarich, 
which originated with it in 506, Christ's birthday became a day on which no 
law courts were allowed to be held. In Eastern Rome it gained the same 
position not much later, the Codex yustinianus of 543 ordaining it to be a 
dies nefasius. On the other hand, the Church tried to make it a real day of 
worldly joy, excluding from it all fasting as early as a.d. 561.^ 

^Beda, Historia Ecclesiastica, III., 3, 25, 26. 

' Beda knew the bearing of that difference between the two festivals quite well. Com- 
paring Easter and Oiristmas, he says {De TemporibuSy chap, xv.) : " Ideo autem pascha non 
ad eundem redit anni diem, sicut tempus Dominicae nativitatis, quod ibi nativitatis ipsius 
memoria tantum solemnis habeatur: hie vero vitae venturae et mysteria celebrentur, et 
munera capiantur.'* 

'Usener, Das Weihnachtsfest^ pp. 262, 247, 238. 

*The Concilium Bracarmse of $61 ordains: **Siquis Natalem Christi secundum carnem 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



\ 



122 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

/The new day of Christ's deification could only be successful in outshining 
the old one if it was celebrated earlier than the old one and at ^e same 
time with higher splendour. Although everything was done in that direction, 
attempts were not lacking to build a bridge from the new day to the old one, 
by proclaiming holy the twelve days between them. This was done as early 
as the fourth century by Ephraim* the Syrian, and became bye and bye an 
ecclesiastical institution ; so that the Synod of Tours of 567 declared it to 
, c be a festive tide of the Church under the name AoiScKa^c^ov^or Twglye-days 

r /^- A/^TK*. .r^ tide— called on Germanic soil, several centuries later, the Twehe nights — ^and 
in the course of time becoming so popular that a thousand years later so 
great a mythologist as Professor Weinhold could mistake them for a relic 
of ancient Germanic worshipJ 

After having gained a new centre at Rome, Christianity went out to 
convert the nations — following in the footsteps of old Roman civilisation. 
It spread over Gaul and came to the Rhine, in the sixth century passed the 
Rhine, and in the course of two other centuries won over almost all the 
Western Germanics. Wherever it came it fought against heathen custom, 
whether Roman, Celtic, or Germanic; and in pressing Christ's birthday, 
Pasch and Pentecost, as the main festivals of the new faith, had to 'fight 
a hard struggle with hard-headed Germanics. The Edicts^ of the Councils 
of the Church, especially of those held in Gaul, are eloquent documents 
on the various ways in which the Germanics and their evil demons attempted 
to put Christ's Church to shame, and on the eneigetic ways in which the 
representatives of the right belief frustrated that audacious undertaking. 

To Great Britain Christianity had come about At^e^^^oa from Asia Minor, 
and spread somewhat in the course of the third century, so that the perse- 
cution of the Christians by Diocletian (284-305) ^ threw its shadows over 
this country as over others. When some time later three heathen Germanic 
tribes crossed the Channel — the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes — 
Christian tradition on British soil was not entirely interrupted, although it 

non bene honorat, sed honorare se simulat, jejunans in eodem die, et in Dominico : quia 
Christum in vera hominb natura natum esse non credit, sicut Cerdon, Marcion, Manichaeus, 
et Priscillianus anathema sit.*' Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 17 14, III., col. 348. 
^Beda, HUtoria EccUsiasiua Geniis Anghrum, chap. vi. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



'^^^^^^b 



\ 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST 123 

seems not to have specially flourished. It was in 592 that Pope Gregory 
the Great sent the first Roman missionaries to Britain, led by Augustine, 
who was to be theu: bishop if they should succeed. They were kindly 
received by King Ethelbert of Kent, and settled in Canterbury. The ancient 
British Christian Church, having sprung up in the second century from Asia 
\Minor, cannot have had any celebration of Christ's nativity on December 25. 
So the first celebration of that festival, it must be assumed, was held in 
Britain in 592 by Augustine and his fellow-missionaries, though we have no 
knowledge of that fact If there was such a celebration, it consisted, 
in all probability, in a specially splendid mass, and was supported by worldly 
dining and drinking.^ 

From the famous letter of Pope Gregory the Great to the Abbot 
Mellitus in Britain we know that, so late as the end of the sixth century, 
the Pope attached the princips^ weight to the celebration of the proper 
sacred days^ however heathenish the customs might be of which that 
celebration consisted, provided only that what so far had been done in 
honour of the heathen demons was now done in honour of the one God 
of the heavens, and if it took the shape of offering and feasting.^ i 



^Adamnan's Life of SL Columba (a.d. 521-597) {Adamnani Vita S, Columbacy edited 
from Dr. Reeves's Text, with an Introduction on early Irish Church History, Notes, and a 
Glossary by J. T. Fowler, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1894), which belongs to the first half 
of the eighth century and to Ireland and lona, knows of Christmas as being one of the two 
great festivals of the Church, the other being the PaschaUs dies {Ibid.y p. 46). It names it 
NataiiHum Domini, It tells of a manuscript by Columba which remained in the water 
uninjured from Christmas to Easter : " Qui videlicet libeUus, a Natalitio Domini usque ad 
Paschalium consummationem dierum in aquis permanens . . . postea repertus" {Ibid,, p. 79, 
Book II., chap, ix.); whilst elsewhere the dies naialis of a saint is the day on which he died, 
!>., was bom into heaven, the word usually applied to the birthday of a saint being neaiviias. 
Compare Fowler*s book, p. 124, note : ** Quia ut saeculo et mundo moriuntur, ita tunc caelo 
nascuntur" (Beleth, Div, Off,, 4). Of course, in this case the evidence b lacking that 
the story was told the same way during Columba's life-time. 

^ Venerabilis Baedae Historiam EccUsiastieam Gentis Anglorum, Historiam Abbatum, 
Epistdam ad Ecgberctum una cum Historia Abbaium, Auctore Anonymo ad fidem codicum 
manuscriptorum denuo recogMvit commentario tarn criiico quam hisiorico instruxii Carolus 
Plummer, Tomus Prior, Oxonii, 1896, p. 65 (chap, xxx.) : " Cum ergo Deus omnipotens vos 
ad reverentissimum virum fratrem nostrum Augustinum episcopum perduxerit, didte ei, 
quid diu mecum de causa Anglorum cogitans tractavi; videlicet* quia frma idolorum 



4 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



124 VULE AND CHRISTMAS 

So Germanic and Roman customs were drawn to those festivals by the 
Christian missionaries, just for the purpose that those festive dajrs might 
at least be celebrated, and new Church customs, partly of Oriental heathen 
origin, were introduced in order to compete with the native customs 
originally belonging to other days of the year. A second stage in that 
evolution of Christian festivals on Germanic ground is that the Church 
began to combat the very same native customs which it first had drawn 
to its new festivals, and to interdict them wherever they might occur. Of 
that stage also the Edicts of the Church Councils afford abundant proof. 
Whilst up to about a.d. 550 they fight against the participation of Christians 
in heathen festivals, after that date they start a struggle against heathen 
and heterodox usages practised on the festivals of the Church. This 
second attempt, however, seems to have been less successful, or, at least, 
to have succeeded much more slowly. It was, apparently, easier to induce 
those Germanic tribes to alter the days of their celebrations than to 
practise new usages altogether.^ Just as, according to the letter of Pope 

destrui in eadem gente minime debeant ; sed ipsa, quae in eb sunt, idola 
destruantur ; aqua benedicta fiat, in eisdem hxds aspergatur, altaria construantur, reliquiae 
ponantur. Quia, si fiina eadem bene constructa sunt, necesse est, ut a cultu daemonum 
in obsequio veri Dei debeant commutari ; ut dum gens ipsa eadem &na sua non videt 
destrui, de corde errorem deponat, et Deum verum cognoscens ac adorans, ad loca, quae 
consuevit, &miliarius concurrat. Et quia boves solent in sacrificio daemonum multos 
occidere, debet eis etiam hac de re aliqua sollemnitas immutari ; ut die dedicationis, vel 
natalitii sanctorum martyrum, quorum illic reliquiae ponuntur, tabemacula sibi circa easdem 
ecclesias, quae ex fanis commutatae simt, de ramis arborum fadant, et religiosis conviviis 
sollemnitatem celebrent ; nee diabolo iam animalia immolent, et ad iaudem Dei in esu 
suo animalia occidant, et donatori omnium de satietate sua gratias referant; ut dum 
eis aliqua exterius gaudia reservantur, ad interiora gaudia consentire &cilius valeant. 
Nam duris mentibus simul omnia absddere impossibile esse non dubium est, quia et is, 
qui summum locum ascendere nititur, gradibus vel passibus, non autem saltibus elevatur. 
Sic Isiaelitico populo in Aegypto Dominus se quidem innotuit ; sed tamen eis sacrificiorum 
usus, quae diabolo solebat exhibere, in cultu proprio reservavit, ut eis in suo sacrifido 
animalia immolare praedperet; quatinus cor mutantes, aliud de sacrifido amitterent, 
aliud retinerent ; ut etsi ipsa essent animalia, quae oflferre consueverant, vero tamen 
Deo haec et non idolis immolantes, iam sacrificia ipsa non essent." 

^ Acta Canci/icrum, Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 354, Ckildeberii Regis ConstihUio 
sme ConstUuticms qua4 supersunt Capita duo (511-558); Boretius, Capitularia Rtgum 
FroHcarum^ I., 2 : ''Ad nos querimonia processit, multa sacrilegia in populo fieri, unde 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST 125 

Gregory to Mellitus, it was the policy of the Church to change the places 
of heathen cult into places of worship of the God of the Christians, the 
new Christian churches are expressly and more than once reported to 
have been used for celebrations after the old Celtic and Germanic 
manners,^ and so late as the beginning of the ninth century the repetition 
of an interdict of that habit was thought expedient.^ Nay, the very festivals 
of the new religious community were constantly used for celebrations 
according to ancient heathen Germanic customs.^ Certainly Professor Koegel 



Deus laedatur, et populus per peccatum declinet ad mortem. Noctes pervigiles cum 
ebrietate, scurrilitate, vel canticis, etiam in ipis sacris diebus Pascha, Natale Domini, et 
reliquis festivitatibus, vel adveniente die Dominico, dansatrices per villas ambulare. Haec 
omnia, unde Deus agnoscitur laedt, nullatenus fieri permittimus. Quicunque post 
commonitionem sacerdotum, vel nostrum praeceptum, sacrilegia ista perpetrare praesump- 
serit, si servilis persona est, centum ictus flagellorum ut suscipiat iubemus : si vero 
ingenuus aut honoratior foitasse persona est, districta inclusione digna. Sunt hi autem 
in poenitentiam redigendi: ut qui salubria et a mortb periculo revocantia audire verba 
contemnunt, cruciatus saltem corporis eos ad desiderandam mentis valeat reducere 
sanitatem." 

^ Council of Autun (573-603), chap, ix., in Concilia avi Merowingici, ed. Frid. 
Maassen, Hannover, 1893, p. 180: "Non licet in ecclesia choros saecularium vel 
puellarum cantica exercere nee convivia in ecclesia praeparare, quia scriptum est : domus 
mea domus orationis vocabitur." 

^Statuta Bonifaciit chap. xxi. : "Non licet in ecclesia choros Secularium vel puellarum 
cantica exercere nee convivia in ecclesia praeparare." 

^ Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 445, Concilium Autissiodoreme^ 
A.D. 578, Canon xi. : " Non licet in vigilia paschae ante horam secundam noctis 
vigilias perexplere, quia in ilia nocte non licet post mediam noctem bibere [nee 
manducare], nee in Natali Domini, nee in reliquis solemnitatibus." Ibid,^ Vol. III., 
col. 444, Canons iii. and v. : ** pinon iii. Non licet compensos in domibus propriis, 
nee pervigilias in festivitatibus sanctorum facere ; nee inter sentes, aut ad arbores sacrivos, 
vel ad fontes vota exsolvere: sed quicumque votum habuerit, in ecclesia vigilet, 
et matriculae ipsum votum, aut pauperibus reddat: nee sculptilia [sub tilia] aut 
pede, aut homine lineo fieri penitus praesumat. Canon v. Omnino et inter supradictas 
conditiones, pervigilias, quas in honore domni Martini observant, omnimodis prohibet." 
Council of ChalonS'Sur-Sadne (639-654), chap, xix., in Concilia avi Merowingici^ ed. Frid. 
Maassen, Hannover, 1893, p. 212: "Valde omnibus nuscctur esse decretum, ne per 
dedicationes basilicarum aut festivitates martyrum ad ipsa solemnia confluentes obscina 
et turpea cantica, dum orare debent aut clericos psallentes audire cum choris foemineis, 
turpia quidem, decantare videantur." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



126 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

is wrong when^ he expresses the opinion that these days of saints were 
just the ancient Germanic festive days on which people continued their 
old practice of worship.* /^ Among these Church festivals used for popular 
rejoicing were, of cpurse, the Sundays and the two greatest festivals of the 
sixth century Church— Christmas and Easter^ — at which processions after the 
ancient Celtic and Germanic fashion apparently were very frequent in 
the Gaul of the early sixth century.** It is to be admitted that, in fixing 
the saints' days, the Church had a certain liberty, although very many of 
them had definitely been marked down before any Germanic tribe got 
anything like a decisive influence over Church affairs ; but the three festivals, 
Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost — or, as they run in the Western countries 
from the middle of the fourth century, Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost — 
were absolutely fixed previous to a contact of the supreme authority in the 



^Geschichie der deutschen Liieratur bis turn Ausgange des AfUteldlters^ Strassbuig, 
1894, p. 25. 

' Professor Ko^el, Ibid* , has put together a number of further evidences of heathen practices 
at Christian festive days : ** Caspari, Kirchenhistorische Aneedota^ Christiania, 1883, pp. 176, 
188; Benediclus Levita, VI., 96, in Monummta Germaniae, ScriptoreSy IV., 2; Wasser- 
schleben, Bussordnungender abtndldndischen Kirche^ p. 607 (Preuso-Theodorean Penitential); 
Indiculus Superstitionumi De Sacrilegiis per ecclesias (among the Saxons newly converted); 
Rfgino von Pnim, ed. by Wasserschleben, p. 179 (Coimcil of Mayence, 813) ; Boretius, 
Capittdaria Regum Francorum^ I., p. 376: *Sunt quidam, et maxime mulieres, qui festis 
ac sacris diebus atque sanctorum nataliciis non pro eorum quibus debent delectantur 
desideriis advenire, sed balando et verba turpia decantando, choros tenendo ac ducendo, 
similitudinem paganorum peragendo, advenire procurant.'" 

•Beda's Letter to Egbert, Bishop of York, on the state of the Northumbrian 
Church, which was written A.D. 734 (Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical 
Documents^ Oxford, 187 1, III., p. 323: "Quod videlicet genus religionis, ac Deo 
devotae sanclificationis tam longe a cunctis pene nostrae provindae laicis per incuriam 
docentium quasi prope peregrinum abest, ut hi qui inter religiosiores esse videntur, non 
nisi in Natali Domini et Epiphania et Pascha sacrosanctis mysteriis communicare 
praesumant "), mentions even, as the three festivals of the Church most popular in his 
time, Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter. 

^Rudolph Koegel as late as 1894 maintained that Christmas and Easter were 
originally Germanic festivals {GeschichU der deutschen Literatur bis turn Ausgang des 
Mittelaltersy Strassburg, 1894, I., p. 28) ; but that part of his book was printed before he 
had come to know my own Gesckickte der deutschen Weihnachty which had appeared 
in Leipzig, 1893. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST 127 

Christian Church with the Germanics. It does not seem to have occurred 
to anybody what a number of singular and unexplainable coincidences would 
have to be assumed, if each of these festivals had fallen on a 'day sancrosanct 
to the Germanics before their contact with the Romano-Christian world ! 

Professor Weinhold somewhat underrates the power and influence of 
Christianity on the Germanic nations. What a poor religion would it require 
to have been had it influenced them no more than he supposes it to have 
done! He overlooks the world of tradition, of tales, of customs, of beliefs, 
it called into existence, and has some feeling that he does a patriotic work 
when he ascribes to our heathen ancestors all those creations of fancy, and 
the experience of life and the human heart, which the religion of the cross 
gave them as an entirely unearned present. To ascribe to Germanic 
heathendom whatever is popular among the Germanic nations in modem 
times means nothing but to assume that the Germanics were touched by^ 
Christianity only in the most superficial way, and that all efforts which the 
Church made in order to bring home to the Germanic mind its institutions 
were of no consequence. 

The establishment of the Dodekahemeron. or the twelve holy days from 
Christmas to Epiphany whicli was mentioned above, was one of the 
means to make Christmas an important feast Another was the institution 
of a preparatory tide of forty days which immediately preceded it, and 
which gained ground after the middle of the sixth century, spreading from 
Gaul over almost the whole Christian world. 

The Advent-tide, with its beginning at Martinmas, is of Gallic growth, that 
date having been decidedly fixed under Germanic influence. It is important, 
for the purpose of understanding the relation between Martinmas and the 
autumnal equinox, to notice that there was in the early Church another and 
later Advent-tide, which competed with that of Gaul. It was of southern growth, 
and began on the autumnal equinox. According to a letter which pretends 
to be written by St. Augustine of Hipporegius, Numidia, to Biblianus, Bishop 
of Santonae, Gaul, living about 450,* the Advent-tide was to begin on 

^ " Episcopus Sanctonensis/' now Saintes in the D^partement Charente-Inf<Srieur. Com- 
pare Potthast, Wegweiser^ 634; Pfannenschmid, Germanische Emtefeste, p. 514, 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



128 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

September 24, that being the day of the autumnal equinox, because that 
was the day of the conception of John Baptist. It being preserved only 
in a manuscript of the eighth century, and stating expressly that the 
beginning of the holy tide with the equinox was more fitting than its 
beginning with Martin's burial-day, it cannot have been written before the 
middle of the sixth century, before which date an Advent-tide, beginning 
with Martinmas, cannot be proved to have existed. It is clearly a falsifi- 
cation intended to supersede the Germanic term Martinmas by the Italian 
term of the autumnal equinox, of which the Germanics knew nothing. The 
Advent-tide, beginning with Martinmas, became an ecclesiastical institution 
in the latter half of the sixth century.* It was the policy of the Church 
to impress on people's minds its three great festivals by making each of 
them a gay time of worldly joy, and by rendering their gaiety the more 
4 attractive by letting them be preceded by periods of strict fasting, which were 
extended to forty days each, a space of time which, however, seems seldom 
to have been exceeded. To be sure it was long enough — the three fiststing- 
tides together comprising, as they did, an entire third of a year. Nor 
were the saints* days times of penitence or fasting, but the very contrary. 
The Judseo-Christian and also Roman conception of sanctif]ring festive days 
by dropping every kind of work was understood to refer to the toil of 
every-day life— to business and law proceedings only — ^whilst every allowance 
was made for enjoyment of various kinds, and, above all, for eating and 
drinking. In truth, it was not before the time immediately following the 
Reformation that another view was taken which turned, though only within the 
small area of Puritanism, the festive days of the Church into true dies mfast i 
of Roman strictness, making it a sin to enjoy one's self in any way on a 
Sunday, and dropping the old festivals of the Catholic Church almost 
completely. In the seventh century, even the worst sinners who had to 
do penitence for fifteen years were allowed to break their fasting on Sundays.* 

* ** Ut a feria sancli Martini usque ad Naule domini, secunda, quarta, et sexta sabbati 
jcjunetur, et sacrifida quadragesimali debeant ordine celebrari." Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 
1714, Vol. III., col. 452, Concilium Matiscomftse, I., A.D. 581, ix. 

^Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents^ Oxford, 1871, III., 179, 
Tluodor^s Penitential, ii., 16: **Si cum matre quis fbrnicavcrit, xv. annos peniteat, et 
nunquam mutet nisi Dominicis diebus." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST 129 

As far as I am aware, the three Quadragesimae occur in Britain for the 
first time shortly before a.d. 570.^ The mention of them without any specify- 
ing remark presupposes a general establishment of the three great Church 
festivals, as to which it is, however, uncertain whether the third was Epiphany 
or Christmas.^ Whitsunday and Easter are for the first time mentioned 
between a.d. 616 and 627.^ a.d. 704 the Strathclyde Britains adopted the 
Roman Easter.^ In Armorica the first Easter is mentioned as early as 
A.D. 541,^ the first mentioning of Christmas taking place in 598.^ Between 
A.D. 597 and A.D. 604 Gregory is said to have given the English a rule 
on the Ember Feasts, or feasts of the four Roman seasons of the year.^ 

^ Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and EcclesiasticcU Documents Relating to Great Britain 
and Ireland^ Oxford, 1869, Vol. I., p. 113, in Praefatio Gildae dc Penitentia, where to the 
penitent sinner it is permitted : * ' Per tres quadragesimas superaddat aliquid, prout virtus 
admiserit." 

^The mention occurs again and again. Ibid.t I., p. 114, xi. : ''Tres quadragesimas;" 
xvii. : " Quadragesimam ; duas quadragesimas;'' Ibid,, L, p. 117 (a.d. 569), Sinodus 
Aquilonalis Britanniae^ ii. : "Tribus quadragesimis ; '' iv. : **Tres quadragesimas;" Jbid,, 
I., p. 118 (A.D. 569), Excerpta quaedam de Libro Davidis^ ii. : " Quadragesimam ; tribus 
quadragesimis." 

^Ibid.y I., 124, Nennius, Appendix: " Eanfied filia illius duodecimo die post Pentecosten 
baptismum accepit cum universis hominibus suis de viris et mulieribus cum ea. Eadguin 
vero in sequenti Pascha baptismum suscepit, et duodedm millta hominum baptizati sunt cum 
eo;" Ibid,^ I., 124 (a.d. 731), Baedae Historica Ecclesiastical III., 28: " Dominicum 
paschae diem." 

^Ibid,, II., ii., 6, and II., ii., no, Baedae Hist. Ecclesiastica^ V., 15 : **Quo tempore 
plurima pars Scotorum in Hibemia, et nonnulla etiam de Brittonibus in Brittannia, rationabile 
et ecclesiasticum Paschalis observantiae tempus Domino donante suscepit." 

'Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents, II., Oxford, 1873, P- 7Si 
ConciL Aurelian,, IV., Can. i. : *' Placuit itaque, Deo propitio, ut sanctum Pascha secundum 
laterculum Victorii ab omnibus sacerdotibus uno tempore celebretur " (in Armorica) ; Ibid, , 
II., 77 (A.D. 577, 590) ; Greg, Tur., V., 17 (A.D. 577): " Eo anno dubietas Paschae fuit," 
etc About the Easter dispute, compare Beda, Hist, Eccl,, III., 3 and 25, 26. 

^Ibid,y Vol. III., Oxford, 1 87 1, p. 12, Letter by Gregorius to Eulogius, Bishop of 
Alexandria: "In solemnitate autem Dominicae Nativitatis quae hac prima indictione 
transacta est plus quam decem milia Angli ab eodem [Augustino] nuntiati sunt fratre et 
coepiscopo nostro baptizati." 

^ Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents Relating to Great Britain 
and Ireland, Vol. III., Oxford, 1871, p. 52 (after Mansi, X., 446, ex Additamentis cut 
Codicem Burchardi, who, however, is inclined to r^ard it as spurious, following therein 
Muratorius, II., p. 262, in his Dissertatio de Jejuniis QucUuor Temporum, chap, vii., 

I 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



130 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



That Gregory gave that rule was at least believed in the English Church 
of the eighth century. 

Prescriptions about the three fasting tides are very frequent^ Of these 
periods the forty days preceding Pasch were reckoned the holiest,^ at least 
as regards chastity. As regards abstinence from work Sunday stood first* 



p. 449) : ''Haec sunt jejunia, quae S. Gregorius gend Anglorum praedicari praecepit — 
Sunt quatuor jejunia quatuor temporum anni; id est, veris, aestatis, autumni et hierois. 
Jejunium primum in prima hebdomada Quadragesimae ; jejunium secundum in hebdomada 
post Pentecosten ; jejunium tertium in plena hebdomada ante autumnale aequinoctium ; 
jejunium quartum in plena hebdomada ante natale Domini. Jejunium in feria sexta per 
totum annum nisi a Pascha usque ad Pentecosten, aut si major festivitas fiierit" 

^ Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents^ Oxford, 1 87 1, III., p. 182, 
Theodore's Penitential (668-690), VI. i, 2 : *' Quis peijurium £sicit in ecclesia undedm 
annos peniteat (2) Qui vero necessitate coactus sit tres quadragesimas." Ibid,^ III*> P* 1S4, 
viii., II ; Ibid.f III., 186, xi. : *' De his qui damnant Dominicam et indicta jejunia ecclesiae 
DeL (i) Qui operantur die Dominico, eos Graed prima vice arguunt, secunda tollunt 
aliquid ab eis, tertia vice partem tertiam de rebus eorum, aut vapulent, vel vii. diebus 
peniteant. (2) Si quis autem in Dominica die pro negligentia jejunaverit, ebdomadam 
totam debet abstinere; si secundo, xx. dies peniteat; si postea, XL. dies. (3) Si pro 
damnatione diei jejunaverit, sicut Judaeus abominetur ab omnibus ecclesiis catholids. (4) Si 
autem contempserit indictum jejunium in ecclesia et contra decreta seniorum fecerit sine 
XLma, XL. dies peniteat Si autem in XLma, annum peniteat ; si quis autem contempserit 
XLmam ; XL. dies peniteat. (5) Si frequenter fecerit, et in consuetudine erit ei, exterminetur 
ab ecclesia. Domino dicente, 'Qui scandalizaverit unum de pusillis istis' et reliqua." 
Ibid.y III., 196, viii.: «De moribus Graecorum et Romanorum. (i) In Dominico 
Graeci et Romani navigant et equitant, panem non faciunt, neque in curru pergunt nisi ad 
ecclesiam tantum, nee balneant se. (2) Graeci in Dominica non scribunt publice ; tunc pro 
necessitate seorsum in domu scribunt. (3) Graeci et Romani dant servis suis vestimenta et 
laborant sine Dominico die. ... (5) In ilia die ante Natale Domini hora nona, expleta 
missa, id est, vigilia Domini, manducant Romani, Graeci vero dicta vespera et missa 
coenant. ... (8) Lavacrum capitis potest in Dominica esse, et in lexiva pedes lavare licet, 
sed consuetudo Romanorum non est haec lavatio pedum." 

^Ibid,y III., 199, xiL : " (2) Vir abstineat se ab uxorc XL. dies ante Pascha usque octavas 
Paschae," which prescription b enlarged in another version by the addition : **post Pentecosten 
una cbdomada" (Ibid,^ III., published in Cap, Theodor,^ ed. Wasserschleben, No. 56). 

^Jbid,^ III., 215, King l9U*s Laivs, touching the Church (688-693; probably A.D. 693): 
iii. "Gif theowmon wyrce on Sunnan-dseg be his hlafordes hsese, sie he frioh; and se 
hlaford geselle xxx. scillingas to wite. Gif thonne se theowa butan his gewitnesse wyrce, 
tholie his hyde [oththe hyd-gyldes]. Gif thonne se frigea thy d«ge wyrce butan his hlafordes 
hsese tholie his freotes [oththe sixtig sdllmgas; and preost si twy-scildig] " ; the same. 
Ibid., III., 235, Laws of Wihtred (693-731), 911. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST 



131 



Nevertheless, the Church had considerable difficulty in making the new 
Christians see a difference between their old Germanic and the new Christian 
festivals. The Anglo-Saxons came to church dancing, and there sang then: 
love-songs, as they had done at their traditional festivals, so that this kind 
of thing had to be forbidden in England as it had to be on the Continent.^ 
Otherwise, especially as regards feasting at the proper times, the Church 
was very liberal. Theodore's Penitential (a.d. 668-690) regarded it as an 
excuse if a man ate too freely at Christmas, so long as he did not pass the 
limits allowed by the Church.^ 

The state of the ecclesiastical observance of Christmas among the 
people about Beda's time can be seen from several Penitentials contem- 
poraneous or almost contemporaneous.^ 

^Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents^ Oxford, 187 1, III., 227, 
in \ht Judicium dementis^ probably written by Willibrord (690-693), 20: "Si quis in 
quacunque festivitate ad ecclesiam veniens paUat foris, aut saltat, aut cantat orationes 
amatorias, ab Episcopo aut presbytero aut clerico excommunicelur et, dum paenitentiam 
non agit, excommunicetur." The same in Kunstmann, Die Lateinischen PonitenticUbUcher 
der Angelsachsen^ p. 177, and Wasserschleben, Die Bussordnungen der Abendldndischen 
Kirchc, p. 433. 

^Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents^ Oxford, 187 1, HI., 
p. 177 : Liber Primus I., De Crapula et Ebrietate. '*(4) Si vero pro infirmitate aut quia 
longo tempore se abstinuerit, et in consuetudine non erit ei multum bibere vel manducare, 
aut pro gaudio in Natale Domini aut in Pascha aut pro alicujus Sanctorum commemoratione 
faciebat, et tunc plus non accipit quam decretum est a senioribus, nihil nocet. Si Episcopus 
juberit, non nocet iUi, nisi ipse similiter fadat.'* It was mentioned above that the Concilium 
Bracarense, I., A.D. 561, ordained a celebration of Christmas, expressly forbidding any 
&sting on that day {Acta Conciliorum^ Parisiis, 17 14, Vol. III., col. 348, iii. : **Si quis 
Natalem Christi secundum camem non bene honorat, sed honorare se simulat, jejunans in 
eodem die, et in Dominico . . . anathema sit *' ). The same prohibition occurs as late as 
about A. D. 725 {Acta Condliorumy Parisiis, 17 14, Vol III., col. 1863, Gregorii Papae II. 
(a.d. 715-731) Capitulaet x. : '* Ut dominids diebus doceantur non licere omnino jejunare, 
propter resurrectionis dominicae sacramentum, neque in festivitatibus Dominicis Nativitatis, 
aut Apparitionis, sive Ascensionis**). 

•Thorpe, Ancient Laws^ II., 95-96; Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical 
Documents^ Oxford, 1871, Vol. III., 412, Dialogue of Egbert between A.D. 732 and 
766 : ** De Quarto Jejunio : Quartum jcjunium mense Novembrio a veteribus colebatur, 
juxta praeceptum Domini ad Jeremiam dicentis: *Tolle volumen libri, et scribe in eo 
omnia verba, quae locutus sum adversus Israel et Judam. Et factum est in mense nono, 
praedicaverunt jejunium in conspectu Domini omni populo in Jerusalem.* Hac ergo 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



132 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Unwise regulations do not always attain the purpose for which they are 
made. Just as the forty days' fast preceding the Nativity was bound to lead to 

auctoritate Divinarum Scripturarum ecclesia catholica morem obtinet, et jejunium atque 
observationem in mense celebrat dedmo, sabbato quarto, propter advenientem venerabUem 
solemnitatem Domini nostri Jesu Christi ; ubi ante plures dies et continentia camis et jejunia 
exhibenda sunt, ut unusquisque fidelis praeparet se ad communionem corporis et sanguinis 
Christi cum devotione sumendam. Quod et gens Anglorum semper in plena ebdomada ante 
Natale Domini consuevit, non solum quarta et sexta feria, et sabbato, sed et juges xii. 
dies in jejuniis, et vigilib, et orationibus, et elemosinarum largitionibus, et in roonasteriis, 
et in plebibus, ante Natale, quasi legitimum jejunium exercuisse perhibetur. Nam haec, 
Deo gratias, a temporibus Vitaliani papae, et Theodori Dorobemensis Archiepiscofn 
inolevit in ecclesia Anglorum consuetudo, et quasi legitima tenebatur, ut non solum 
clerid in monasteriis, sed etiam laid cum conjugibus et fiimiliis suis ad confessores suos 
pervenirent, et se fletibus et camalis concupiscentiae consortio his duodedm diebus cum 
elemosinarum largitione mundarent, quatenus puriores Dominicae communionis perceptionem 
in Natale Domini perdperent. Praeter haec namque constituta jejunia quarta et sexta 
feria, propter passionem Christi, et sabbato, propter quod ipso die jacuit in sepulcro, 
plerique jejunaverunt.'' Thorpe's Ancunt Laws, II., 65, CapUula it Fragmenta Thtodori 
Operum : "Jejunia legitima tria sunt in anno ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ praeterea quadraginta ante 
Natale Domini, et post Pentecosten quadraginta dies." Ibid,y II., 66: "Poenitentia 
illius anni unius, qui in pane et aqua jejunandus est, isto ordlne observari debet 
Poenitentia illius anni unius, qui in pane et aqua jejunandus est, talis esse debet in 
unaquaque hebdomada. Tres dies, id est feriam quintam et sabbatum, a vino, medone, 
mellita et cervisia, a came et sagimine, a caseo et ovis, et ab omni pingui pisce se 
abstineat Manducet autem minutos pisdculos, si habere potest Si habere non potest, 
tantum unius generis piscem, et legumina, et olera, et poma, si vult, comedat, et 
cervisiam bibat ; et in diebus Dominids, et in Natali Domini illos quatuor dies ; et in 
Epiphania unum diem ; et in Pascha, usque ad octavum diem ; et in Ascensione Domini, 
et Pentecostes quatuor dies ; et in festo Sancti Johannis Baptistae, et Sanctae Mariae, et 
sanctorum duodedm Apostolonim, et Sancti Michaelis, et Sancti Remigii, et Omnium 
Sanctorum, et Sancti Martini, et in illius Sancti festivitate, qui in illo episcopatu 
Celebris habetur. In his supradictis diebus fadat charitatem cum ceteris Christianis, 
id est, utatur eodem dbo et potu quo illi, sed tamen ebrietatem, et ventris 
ingluviem semper in omnibus caveat." In the second year the sinner of the same kind 
has to do the following: "Poenitentia istius anni talis esse debet, ut duos dies, id est 
secundam feriam et quartam in unaquaque hebdomada, jejunet ad vesperam, et tunc 
refidatur sicco dbo, id est, de pane et leguminibus sicds sed ooctis, aut pomis, aut 
oleribus crudis; unum eligat ex his tribus, et utatur, et cervisiam bibat sed sobrie. Et 
tertium diem, id est, sextam feriam, in pane et aqua observet, et tres quadragesimas 
jejunet ante Natale Domini unam, secundam ante Pascha, tertiam ante missam Sancti 
Joannis. Et in his tribus quadragesimis jejunet duos dies ad nonam in hebdomada, et 
de sicco dbo comedat, ut supra notatum est Et sextam feriam jejunet in pane et aqua. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST 



133 



gluttony at the festival, so the injunctions about the sexual relations for the 
same forty days were bound to have reactionary consequences in the holy 
tide.i 

et in Dominids diebus, et in Natali Domini, et in Pentecoste quatuor illos dies; et in 
Epiphania unum diem, et in Pascha usque ad septimum diem, et in Ascensione Domini, 
et in missa Sancti loannis Baptistae, et reliqua ut supra." Ibid,^ II., 68: "De illis qui 
jejunare non possunt, et nesdunt quomodo poenitentiam unius anni, quern jejunare debent 
in pane et aqua, redimere possint. Qui vero psalmos non novit, et jejunare non potest, 
pro uno anno, quem in pane et aqua jejunare debet, det pauperibus in eleem(is]mam 
viginti duos solidos, et omnes sextas ferias jejunet in pane et aqua, et tres quadra- 
gesimas, id est, quadraginta dies ante Pascha, quadraginta dies ante festivitatem Sancti 
Johannis Baptistae (et si ante festivitatem aliquid remanserit, postea adimpleat, et 
quadraginta dies ante Natale Domini, jn istis tribus quadragesimis, quidquid ori suo 
praeparatur in dbo, vel in potu, vel cujuscumque generis sit, illud aestimet quanti 
pretii sit, yd esse possit ; et medietatem illius pretii distribuat in eleemosynam 
pauperibus, et assidue oret, et roget Dominum, ut oratio ejus, et eleemosynae 
ejus, apud Deum acceptabiles sint." The penitence for incest is a little more restricted; 
Ibid,^ II., 83, CapUula et Fragmenia Theodorix *'Ut septem annos agant poenitentiam, 
tres primos annos tres dies in hebdomada, id est, feria secunda, et quarta, et sexta; 
quadraginta dies ante Pascha; viginti ante missam Sancti lohannis, viginti ante Natale 
Domini : quatuor vero reliquos annos, feria quarta et sexta, et quatuordedm noctes 
ante missam Sancti Johannis, et alias ante Natale DominL" 

^Thorpe, Ancttnt Laws^ II., 12, Liber PoenitenHaHs^ xvii. : "De Observatione Con- 
jugatorum. § i. Qui in matrimonio sunt, abstineant se in iii. Quadragesimas, et in 
Dominica nocte, et in Sabbato, et feria nil. et vi. quae legitimae simt, et iii. noctes 
abstineant se antequam communicent, et i. postquam communicent, et in Pascha usque ad 
octabas. ... § 3. Qui autem in Quadragesima ante Pascha cognosdt mulierem suam, 
et non vult abstinere, I. annum poeniteat, vel suum pretium reddat ad ecdesias, vel 
pauperibus dividat, vel xxvi. solidos reddat. Si per ebrietatem vd aliqua causa acdderit, 
sine consuetudine, XL. dies poeniteat. §4. Qui vero in Quadragesima post Pentecosten, 
aut ante Natale Domini, non vult a sua conjuge abstinere, XL. dies poeniteat" Ibid,^ II., 
81, Ex Frc^mentis Thsodcrii "De temporibus quibus se continere debent conjugati ab 
uxoribus. Uxoratus contineat se quadraginta dies ante Pascha et Pentecosten, seu ante 
Natale Domini, et omnem Dominicam noctem, et quartam et sextam feriam." ** Uxoratus 
contineat se quadraginta dies ante natale Domini vel Pascha et omni dominica " (Haddan 
and Stubbs, Councils and EccUsiasticcd Documents ^ Oxford, 1871, III., 329, Beda's 
Penitential, 731-34). Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ II., 149, Ecgberti ConfessionaU^ xxi.: "Vir 
cum uxore ne coeat XL. dies ante Pascha, nee vii. dies ante Pentecosten, nee XL. dies ante 
Natalem DominL Wer ne hseme mid hb wife XL. nihta ser Eastron. ne vn. nihtum ser 
Pentecosten. ne XL. nihtum aer middan-wintra." Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ II., 103, Ecgbertiy 
Arch, Ebor,^ Excerptiones xxxviii., Sinodus Agatensis : *' Seculares qui in Natale Domini, et 
Pascha, et Pentecosten, non communicaverint, catholid esse non credantur." Christmas 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



134 VULE AND CHRISTMAS 

fin the first half of the sixth century Christmas received a new signifi- 
caSice for the Church by the foundation of a new era through Dionysius 
Exiguus. It began on the first day of January in the 753rd year of the 
building of Rome, in which Christ was supposed to be bom, although it is 
now generally admitted that that date is wrong either by three or by five 
years. That new era was introduced into Italy in the sixth century, and 
into France and England in the seventh, the first instance occurring in 
England belonging to the year 680.O The Venerable Beda uses throughout 
this year — the year "of Grace," "of the Incarnation," "of our Lord," "of the 
Nativity," as it is styled in later centuries — ^although it was so late as 816, 
that, by the Council of Chelsea, it was decreed that all bishops should date 
their acts firom the year of the incarnation of our Saviour.^ Although the 
Church had, from the middle of the fourth century, apparently thought of 
rivalling the Calends of January by its newly-fixed birthday of Christ on 

itself, or even the whole time from December 25 to January 6, was a festive and gay time, 
at which, even for sinners, fasting was suspended. Ecgbert's Confessional and Penitential 
ordains this expressly (Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ XL, 135: ''Secundo anno licebit homini 
[poenitentiam agent i] levare poenitentiam suam a Nativitate Domini ad Epiphaniam, et a 
Paschate ad Pentecosten ; On tham odhrum geare man m6t lihtan his dsedb^te fram Drihtnes 
gebyrd-ttde odh twelftan dseg. and fram Eastron odh Pentecosten "). Haddan and Stubbs, 
Councils and Ecclesictstical Documents^ Oxford, 187 1, Vol. III., p. 429, Egbert's Penitential, 
A.D. 732-766, xiiL, II : "De natale Domini usque in Epiphaniam et illos praedictos dies, 
qui supra script! sunt, in penitenia non computantur." Even so late as about A.D. icxx), 
in the Canons of Aelfric, the time from Christ's Nativity till a week after Christ's Epiphany 
is excepted from Friday fasting, just as the time between Easter and Pentecost (Thorpe, 
Ancient Laws, II., 362: *'And fseste selc man twelf monadh selcne Frige-daeg. buton fram 
Eastron odh Pentecosten. and eft fram middan-wintra odh seofon niht ofer twelftan dseg "). 

* " R^nante in perpetuum ac gubemante Domino nostro Salvatore secula universa, 
Anno recapitulationis Dionisi, id est ab Incamatione Christi sexcentesimo octuagesimo. 
Indictione sexta revoluta, etc. Quapropter ego Oshere Rex, etc " (Sir Hanis Nicolas, The 
Chronology of History, London, 1838, p. 3, obs.). Sir Harris gives some more instances 
from the eighth century, from the charter of Ethelbert, King of the West Saxons : " Scripta 
est hoc charta anno Dominicae Incamationis, Dccxc"; from a charter of Offii, King of 
Mercia: "Actum anno Dominicae Incamationis, dcclxxxviii."; from a charter of Ethelbert, 
the second King of Kent : "Actum [anno] Dominicae Incamationis, dcclxxxi."; and firom 
the charter of Egbert, King of Kent: "Actum anno Dominicae Incamationb, dccclxv." 
{7extus Koffensis, pp. 134, 132, 131, 127). As to the introduction of the Dionysian 
computation, see Notes and Queries, Eighth Series, xii., 421 ; Ninth Series, i., 10, etc 

' Sir Harris Nicolas, The Chronology of History, p. 4. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST 135 

December 25, the struggle was by no means fought through energetically or 
even consistently. The popular customs connected with the Calends of 
January in Italy, Gaul, and the West of Germany gave the Church ample 
grounds of objection to the whole institution of that Pagan beginning of the 
year. The Council of Tours (569),! Bishop Caesarius of Aries ( + S42),2 
and Bonifadus ( + 755)^ fought against it* But in the seventh century 
the Church made the very same day a church festival — a commemoration 
day of the circumdsio domini, (As the economic year began at Martinmas the 
civic year commenced on January i all through the Middle Ages,^ although 
the Church, in its documents and accounts, letters and publications, pur- 
posely ignored that style, and, ha^ng in its hand almost all the secular 
offices of princes, excluded it from documents relative to them likewise. 
The Papal Office used the beginning of the year at Christmas up till the 
middle of the tenth century, then taking March -25 instead. Under 
Bonifacius VIII. (1294-1303) December 25 was introduced again, and 
maintained through the whole of the fourteenth century. In the fifteenth 
a new change set in, March 25 competing with January i.^ 

The earliest documentary evidence of the beginning of the year at Christ- 
mas has been stated to be of a. d. 1027.^ But even centuries later the Roman 

^Mansi, Coll. Coru^,, IX., c. 803. 

^ Opera Auguslinu ed. Benedict., V., app. 233. 

^Epistula, xlii, Jaff6, BibL, III., ill. 

*Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des dtutschen Mittelaltersy 189 1, I., 22. 

*Grotefend, Zeitrtcknung^ I., 22; Bemold, in his Chronicon {Monumfttla GermMiiae, 
Scriptorcs^ V., 395), says : **Civilis [sive vulgaris et lunaris annus in calendis lanuarii . . . 
innovatur"; Burchard of Worms ( + 1025), in his Dtcretaliai "Fecisti quod quidam 
fiaiciunt in calendis lanuarii id est in octava natalb domini, qui ea sancla nocte lilant, 
nent, consuunl et omne opus quodcumque incipere possunt, diabolo instigante propter 
novum annum incipiunt"; and an addition to a Canon of Pope Zacharias of 743 about 
the same subject runs: "Vel aliquid plus novi facere propter novum annum." 

•Grotefend, Zeitrechnung^ I., 205. Germany is the country which laid most stress on 
Christmas as the beginning of the year, and it is quite in keepmg with that feet that even 
now in Germany a great number of customs are connected with Christmas, which in France 
and Great Britain belong to New Year. 

'^ Monumenta Germanicu, Scriptores, XI., 265, in the writing of Wipo, the biographer 
of King Conrad II. ( + 1039): "Inchoante anno Nativitatis Christi, 1027, Rex Chuon- 
rados iu Iporegia civitate natalem Domini celebravit" Brinkmeier, Praktisches Handbuch 
der historischen Chronologies p. 89. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



136 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Church used that Roman beginning of the year for secular business.^ If the 
Church was not successful in achieving its purpose, it was because its 
endeavours were soon divided. The 25th December of the year o having 
been made the beginning of a new era, it was by no means strange that 
that date also should begin the several years. But soon the consideration 
came in that the incarnation of Christ had really begun with His con- 
ception, which was dated on March 25th of the year o, and that style 
won considerable ground vmder the name of the Annunciation style,^ so that 
within the Church two styles rivalled each other: the Annunciation style and 
the Nativity style, for both of which the name of Incarnation style can be 
proved to have been used.* The confusion thus arising was detrimental 
to Church purposes, and at last fatal to both styles, which in the course 
of the sixteenth century were completely beaten by January i.* Never- 
theless through the whole Middle Ages, for almost all matters in any way 
connected with the Church, December 25 was — ^however niunerous may 
be the exceptions — the beginning of the year in Great Britain as 
well as on the Continent In the British Isles it was not before the 
twelfth century that March 25 was taken as the commencement of the 
ecclesiastical year, which practice was not followed by civilians earlier 
than the fourteenth century.*^ f Perhaps even Bishop Liberius, who created 
the festival of the Nativity or Christ, had not thought of replacing alto- 
gether by it the Calends of January. But when, two hundred years later, 
Dionysius Exiguus founded a new era on the year of Christ's birth, and 
the festival of the annual recurrence of the date of that fact grew a more 
and more important ecclesiastical institution, it was only the logical con- 



* Grotefend, Zettrechnung, I., 22, Minutes of the Synod of Gnesen of i2^Ti "Animm autem 
a tempore circumcisionis domiDi, prout tenet ecclesia, intelligimus computandum"; Gervasius 
of Canterbury ( + 1208) : '* Annus Solaris secundum Romanorum traditionem et ecclesiae del 
consuetudinem a calendis lanuarii sumit initium.'' 

'Grotefend, ZHtrechnung^ I., 7. 'Grotefend, Zdtrechnung^ I., 7. 

*For the details, see in Grotefend's ZcUrahnung^ !•> 2^. 

* Sir Harris Nicolas, The Chronology of History^ London, 1838, p. 41, from which 
day the opening of the year was transferred to January i as late as 1753. It had been 
BO transferred in Scotland in 1600 {Ibid.^ p. 43). 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST 



'37 



sequence that the year should come to be reckoned to begin with December 
25 instead of January i, a fact by which Christ's Nativity again rose in 
importance, so that, for the clergyman of the seventh and eighth centuries, 
it became the most prominent day of the whole year, and soon it could no 
longer be imagined that there had ever been a time when it was equally 
unknown to the Roman calendar, to the Christian religion, and to Germanic 
popular traditionfl 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER XI. 

BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM. ^ 

A CENTURY after Roman Christianity had come to Britain, the largest part 
of it was christianized; and in one of its monasteries there lived and 
studied a youth of not yet twenty, the greatest genius of the early Anglic 
Church, Beda, whose life, probably, extended from a.d. 673 to 735, 
and to whom we owe some most important statements about the ancient 
Germanic calendar and ancient Germanic religion, to the extinctioit of which 
his life was devoted. Although he lived all his life in a Northern English 
monastery, he was in almost as close contact with Greco-Roman learning 
as any Goth had ever been, and was as good a Christian believer as any 
Roman could have been who spent his whole life in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the holy See. Put into a monastery at the age of seven, and 
brought up under the special care of Abbot Benedict, who was famous 
for his learning and the wide circle of his interests, he was estranged from 
the popular belief and customs of his home early enough to know com- 
paratively little about them, and to care for them the less, the more he 
was taught to r^ard them as the relics of a creed which led its followers 
unmistakably to eternal damnation. 

The passage bearing on our question is chapter xv. in his work Dt 
Temporum Rationed a book consisting, with the exception of that one 
chapter, solely of facts gathered from various Latin and Greek treatises 
on similar subjects, and showing an amount of classical and astronomical 
learning which is astounding. The chapter is headed De Mensibus Angio- 
rufHy and runs thus : — 

''But the peoples of the ancient Angles (for it does not seem to me 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 139 

suitable to relate the yearly custom of other nations and to be silent about 
that of my own nation) counted their months after the moon's course; 
whence the latter, according to the habit of the Hebrews and Greeks, re- 
ceive their name from the moon, the moon being called by them Mona^ 
and the month MonatK And their first month, which the Latins call 
January, is called Giulix then February, Sol-monath] March, HAed-monath ; 
April, Eostur-monath^ May, Thri-mylchi \ June, Lida\ July, in the same 
way, Lida\ August, Vueod-monath \ September, Haleg-monath \ October, 
Vinter-fylUth) November, Blot-nwnath -, December, Giuii^ with the same 
name by which January is called. They b^an their year from the eighth 
day before the Calends of January [Dec. 25], on which we now celebrate 
the birthday of the Lord. And they then called that night, which is now 
sacrosanct to us, by a native word Modranichty i>., night of mothers, as I 
suppose, because of the ceremonies which they performed in it, keeping 
watch all night And when there was a common year, they gave to each 
of the single seasons three months. But when there occurred an Embolism, 
i.e.y a year of thirteen lunar months, they affixed the supernumerary month 
to the summer, so that then three months were called at the same time by 
the name of Uda^ and on that accoimt that year was called Thri-lidi^ having 
four summer months, but the usual three months in each of the other 
seasons. Again, they divided, in the main, the whole year into two seasons, 
namely, into that of winter and that of summer ; those six months in which 
the days are longer than the nights to be given to siunmer, the other 
six to winter. Hence, among other things, they called the month, with 
which the winter times b^an, Vuinter-fylUth^ this name being composed of 
winter and full moon, of course, because from the full moon of that month 
wbter took its b^inning. Neither is it out of the way, if I take the trouble 
to interpret what is the meaning of the names of the other months of the 
Angles. The months Giuli get their names from the turning round of the 
sun towards the increasing of the day, because one of them precedes and 
the other follows it Sol-monath can be called the month of cakes, which 
in it they offered to their gods; Rhedrmonath is called after their goddess 
Rheda^ to whom they sacrificed in it; Eostur-monath^ which is now inter- 
preted as the month of Pasch, was once called from their goddess named 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



I40 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Eostre^ to whom in it they celebrated festivals. After it we now name the 
time of Pasch, calling the joys of a new festivity by the wonted name of 
an ancient observance. Thri-milcM was thus called, because the domestic 
animals were in it milked three times a day. For such was, once upon 
a time, the fertility of Britain, or of Germany from which the nation of 
Angles entered Britain. Lida is called calm or navigable, because in 
each of the two months there is a genial serenity of the air and the sea 
is usually navigated. Veod-monath is month of tares, because these abound 
very much at that time. HaUg-tnonath is the month of worship. Vuinter- 
fylleth may be called by a newly-made name winter-fiill-moon. Blot-monath 
is the month of immolation, because in it they devoted to their gods their 
cattle which they intended to kill. Thanks to Thee, good Jesus, who, 
turning us away from these vanities, hast granted unto us to bring Thee 
the sacrifices of praise!"* 

> Giles's edition of The CompleU Works of the Venerable Bede, VI., Scientific Tracts and 
Appendix f London, 1S43, but with the addition of the deviations from it in Grimm's text, 
from Jacob Grimm's Geschichie der deutschen Sprache^ Vol. I., Sec. Ed., Leipdg, 1853, 
PP* 56) 57> ^ho says expressly that he used several texts for forming his own. The 
deviations or additions are given in brackets. The italics are mine : — 

" De Mensibus Anglorum. Antiqui autem Anglorum populi (neque enim mihi congruum 
videtur, aliarum gentium annalem observantiam dicere, et meae reticere) juxta cursum iunae 
suos menses computavere : unde et a luna Hebrseorum et Grsecorum more nomen acdpiunt. 
Si quidem apud eos luna Mona^ mensis Monath appellatur [apellatur Monatk\ Primusque 
eorum mensb, quem Latini Januarium vocant, didtur GhdL Deinde Februarins, Sol- 
monath; Martius, Rhed-monath [Hredmonath]; Aprilis, Eostur-monaihi Mains, Thri- 
mylchi \Thrimikt\\ Junius, Lidax Julius similiter Lidax Augustus, Vueod-monath 
Weodmonathy. September, Hakg-monath\ October, VuinUr-fylleth IVintirfylHtkli 
November, Blod-monath [Blotmonathy, December, Giuli^ eodem quo Januarius nomine 
vocatur. Incipiebant autem annum ab octavo Calendarum Januariarum die, ubi nunc 
natale Dominicum celebramus. Et ipsam noctem nunc nobis sacrosanctam, tunc gentili 
vocabulo Modranicht [Modraneht\ id est, matrum noctem appellabant: [ ] ob causam 
ut suspicamur ceremoniarum, quas in ea pervigiles agebant Et quotiescunque communis 
esset annus, temos menses lunares singulb anni temporibus dabant. Cum vero Embolismus, 
hoc est, XIII. mensium lunarium annus occurreret, superfluum mensem sestati apponebant, 
ita ut tunc tres menses simul Lida nomine vocarentur, et ob id annus ille [ ] Thri-ltdi 
[thriUdus] cognominabatur, habens iv. menses sestatis, temes ut semper temporum cseterorum. 
Item [Iterum] principaliter annum totum in duo tempora, hyemis videlicet, et sestatis dis- 
partiebant : sex illos menses quibus longiores noctibus dies sunt aestati tribuendo, sex reliquos 
hyeml Unde et mensem, quo hyemalia tempora incipiebant, VuinterfyUeth [ Vintir/yllith\ 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 141 

This is a very strange record indeed, and it is not easy to take up the 
proper attitude towards it There is no doubt that, coming from so dis- 
tinguished a scholar as Beda, it deserves most careful consideration and 
examination. One thing, however, is clear at first sight. When Beda speaks 
of the ancient Angles, there is no reason to doubt that he believed them 
to have had the views and customs he ascribes to them. But, on the 
other hand, it is quite plain that he could not have any direct information 
about their beliefs and rites, but simply inferred their views from what he 
knew about the Angles of his own time, either from direct observation or 
from hearsay. So all the allowance that can be made is that he heard the 
things he relates in his early childhood firom people who were considerably 
older than he was, whilst some things he may have seen himself. Another 
feature of his report is remarkable : he divides his statement into two parts. 
In the first he simply gives what he regards as plain facts; in the second 
he gives explanations or speculations of his own, which certainly have their 
value as the opinions of so great a mind as Beda's, but cannot in any 
case count for more. He opens that part with the remark: "Neither is 
it out of the way if I take the trouble to interpret what is the meaning 
of the names of the other months of the Angles." 

appellabant, composito nomine ab hyeme et plenilunio, quia videlicet a plenilunio ejusdem 
mensis hyems sortiretur inidum. Nee ab re est, si et csetera mensium eorum quid significent 
nomina [eorum nomina quid significent] interpretari curemus. Menses GiuK a conversione 
soUs in auctum diei, quia unus eorum prsecedit, alius subsequitur, nomina acdpiunt Sol- 
mcnath did potest mensis placentarum, quas in eo Diis suis offerebant : Rhtd-mcnath \Hred- 
tnoncUK\ a Dea illorum Rheda [//r^da], cui in iUo sacrificabant, nominatur : Eostur-monaih, 
qui nunc Paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a Dea illorum quae Eostre vocabatur, et 
cui in iUo festa celebrabant, nomen habuit : a cujus nomine nunc Paschale tempus cogno- 
minant, consueto antiquee observationis vocabulo gaudia novse solemnitatis vocantes. Tri- 
tnikhi \trimilci\ dicebatur quod tribus vidbus in eo per diem pecora mulgebantur. Talis 
enim erat quondam ubertas Britannise, vel Germanise de qua in Britanniam natio intravit 
Anglorum. Lida dicitur blandus, sive navigabilis [navigabilis eo quod] quod in utroque 
[utroque illo mense] mense et blanda sit serenitas aurarum, et navigari soleant sequora. 
Vueod'tnonatk [Veodm(matK\ mensis zizaniorum quod ea tempestate maxime abundent. 
Hakg-monath mensis sacrorum. Vuinter-fylUth [Vintitfyllith'] potest did composito novo 
nomine hyemeplenilunium [hiemiplenium]. Blot-tnonath mensis immolationum, quia [quod] 
in ea pecora quae occisuri erant, Diis suis vovebant. Gratias [gratia] tibi, bone Jesu, qui 
nos ab his vanis avertens, tibi sacrificia laadis offerre donasti." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



142 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

There is no doubt that Beda's record contams facts of great antiquity. 
The most striking thing in it is certainly the assertion that the Angles, 
even about his time, had a common name for December and January, 
and one for June and July, namely, GiuU and Uda^ which means that 
they had still to some extent preserved the old three-score-day tides of 
Oriental extraction, which they had used before they came into contact 
with the Roman pre-Julian calendar, the basis of which was the moon and 
months. Giuli we know to have been in use two hundred years earlier 
among the Goths, i>., an Eastern Germanic tribe living as far distant as 
Italy from the Western Germanic Angles, though, according to the Gothic 
calendar of the Bobbio ms., liuleis then meant November and December, 
and not December and January. This latter difficulty we have solved 
already by showing that the old Germanic three-score-day tides b^an about 
the middle of the Roman months, so that liuleis covered approximately 
the time from November 15 to January 15, and was, among the Goths, 
shifted a fortnight backwards so as to correspond to Roman November and 
December, and among the Angles a fortnight forwards, so as to cover 
December and January. Lida^ the name for the middle of summer, is new 
to us, and we ought to be grateful to Beda for preserving it. That exactly 
four months are between Giuli and Uda shows that no confusion has 
taken place, but that two other three-score-day tides have to stand between 
them. When Beda, however, tells us that in a leap year, as in the pre- 
Julian calendar, a whole month was inserted, and that the leap year 
therefore was called Thrilidi and the thirteenth month the third lAda^ this 
state of things cannot be old, but must be the consequence of the intro- 
duction of the pre-Julian calendar. For lAda was not at aU the name of 
a month among the ancient Angles, but of a three-score-day tide, so that 
thirty days added would have meant only half a Lida^ and there would 
have been one Idda and a half, and not three Lidos, Besides, the 
Angles havings no months, but only three-score-day tides, could not insert 
a month in a leap year, but, had they inserted anything at all, would 
have inserted a whole three-score-day tide every sbrth year, just as the 
later Scandinavians objected to the insertion of a single leap day, but 
waited till the past leap days amounted to a week, then inserting a whole 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 143 

week at a time, so that the year always b^an with the same week-day, 
!>., Thursday. 

However much we owe Beda for the preservation of those two ancient 
names of three-score-day tides, Giuii and Lida, we cannot conceal from 
ourselves the fact that the very names of those two tides amount to a 
complete proof that the other eight month-names which Beda mentions are 
not old. So we have a right to express our regret that Beda was not, by 
the existence of two names for three-score-day tides, put upon the right 
track towards an understanding of the ancient Germanic year, and that he 
did not take all possible trouble to find out the names of the other four 
three-score-day tides, which, together with Giuii and Idda^ formed a com- 
plete Germanic year of, probably, three hundred and sixty or three hundred 
and sixty-six days. In his time it should have been possible to ascertain 
something about them. Perhaps even all of them were still in use among 
the country population of the north of England, and some ingenuity and 
perseverance might have sufficed to gather them. 

The eight month-names which Beda mentions, beside Giuii and Uda^ 
are not old. It is, indeed, not too difficult to see that. One of them 
is called Thrimiici^ a name which shows a very suspicious parallelism to 
Thriiidi. However important a fact it must be for a tribe consisting of 
herdsmen and hunters that the cattle can be milked three times a day, 
we have Beda's own word for it that, in his time, it was not a fact at all, 
but only a legend, a l^end of a golden age in the far-away past, when 
such was "the fertility of Britain, or of Germany from which the nation 
of Angles entered Britain.'' A second month is said to bear the ingenious 
name of Winter-fylleth^ or winter full moon, which is not a month-name at 
all, but merely the name of a date from which the beginning of winter 
was supposed to be reckoned. Besides, this looks rather like a counter- 
part to the calculation of the Christian Easter-festival, and would amount 
to the fact that the winter, the b^inning of which was, in common 
Germanic times, at the same time the beginning of the year, b^an in the 
middle of the month ! The remaining six month-names are compounds of 
mdndthy and thus characterize themselves as being late formations. No 
scholar now would ascribe any considerable age to the Germanic month- 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



144 YU^E ^^^ CHRISTMAS 

names, since even Professor Weinhold, who has overlooked the fact that 
the Germanics received the institution of months from the Romans, pro- 
fesses that there were no month-names in common Germanic times. 
Besides, they can only be taken as representative of a purely local 
denomination of months. Neither Rugem (August?), which we know 
from an even older source,^ nor hlyd-mdnath^ or hlyda for March;* sedr- 
mdnadhy midsumor for June; mcedmdnath for July; or heatfestmdfiath for 
September, which occur in almost contemporaneous literature, are amongst 
them. Nay, they contain scarcely a single month-name which appears a 
second time in Anglo-Saxon.^ Of the six month-names composed with 
ptdnSth Beda apparently knows the right etymology of only two, these 
being Bidimdndth (November), the month of immolation, or, as he says, the 
month in which the Angles "devoted to their gods their cattle which 
they intended to kill," and Haleg-tnAndth (September), holy-month, or month 
of worship, a name probably resting on a Christian foundation. As regards 
the etymology of the other four, he makes vague guesses. That August 
should be called Veod-manoth^ i>., "month of tares, because these abound 
very much at that time," is very doubtful, and a very poor explanation 
indeed. How Sol-manoth (February) should come to mean month of cakes 
nobody can say, there being no such word meaning anything like cake in 
any Germanic language. When he has exhausted all resources, he takes 
refuge in the assumption that the names he cannot explain are names of 
imaginary goddesses. Eostre comes from a root auzrd^ which is cognate 
to Latin aurora and Greek ijcos, and means something like spring. 
Professor Weinhold says : " I explain ebsturmdnad simply as spring-month, 
notwithstanding Beda's dea Eostre^ in whom I do not believe, so long as 
it has not been proved that the principal feast of the Church could be 
called after a heathen goddess. Doubts I also entertain as r^ards his 
dea Hreday who is said to have given a name to March. That Beda's 

^King Vihtraed's Laws, A.D. 696. *Martius rWu^ Hlfda heilic Menologium, 37. 

^Hl^da for March comes dangerously near to Uda for June-July. If February and 
March, or originally January 15 to March 15, were Lida^ the insertion of a leap month 
would almost take place on the same date as it did in the pre-Julian calendar, where it 
was inserted into February, which, of course, was impracticable in the highest degree. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 145 

Strength did not lie in etymology is shown by his explanation of solmdnad 
as the month of offering cakes, and his remark on Gtu/i" ;^ and at another 
place he states,^ " I, at least, regard Beda's explanation of Hredmdnad and 
Ebstre-mdnad as bad guesses, and do not believe in any goddesses Hreda 
and Ebstre (which doubts have, as I observe, been uttered before by Leo, 
Rectitudines^ p. 206)." I should not wonder, if in Hreda and Eostre names 
of two old three-score-day tides were preserved, which had in Beda's time 
become limited to the time of a month. They can be as little explained 
as Giuli or Lida {Hlyda), 

Whilst Beda knows of a dual division of the Anglic year, which was 
bound to be familiar to him on the ground of the existence of the two 
terms winter and summer together covering the whole course of a year, 
he knows nothing whatever of a tri-partition and the legal institutions resting 
on it, although that tri-partition is a fact warranted as well as any from 
the early history of the Germanic tribes. Instead, he gives us a descrip- 
tion of the Roman year of the Julian calendar, which is quartered by 
solstices and equinoxes, a statement which is the more extraordinary, as, 
from what he said before, it is quite plain that he thought the Angles 
had a lunar year of 354 days, into which now and then (presumably every 
third year) a whole intercalary month had to be inserted, just as under the 
reign of the Roman pre-Julian calendar. His words practically amount to 
the following proposition : Whilst the Anglic year, according to his own 
description, was a lunar year, it yet began at the winter solstice. This, of 
course, means that it was not a lunar year, which is quite out of the 
question, since we not only know that the Germanics began their year 
with the beginning of winter and not at the winter solstice, but that, in 
addition, the common Germanic language possessed not even a term for 
solstice; nay, that, when the Western Germanics had got the term and 
meaning of solstice from the Romans, they never used it for the winter 
solstice, but solely for June 24, all through the Middle Ages. Nor is this 
aD. According to Beda's description, the Anglic year did not begin at the 
real solstice (which a.d. 701 fell at four o'clock in the morning of December 



^ Die deutschen Manainamen^ Halle, 1869, p. 4. *yW., p. 24. 

K 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



146 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

i8),* but on December 25, the date which Julius Caesar had erroneously 
fixed for the solstice. When he comes to speculations confessedly his own, 
the value of his statements becomes still more doubtful. He says that the 
Angles called December and January Giuli^ after "the turning round of 
the sun towards the increasing of the day, because one of them precedes 
and the other follows." This can only mean that the Anglic Giuli ex- 
tended from about November 25 to January 24, so that the first Giuli 
ended- at December 25, a statement contradictory to the other statement 
that the Anglic months were identical with the Roman months. Further, we 
know that the Gothic liuieis tide extended from November i to December 
31, and that the common Germanic liuleis tide probably extended firom 
November 15 to January 15, and that, consequently, December 25 was by no 
means the middle of it. So if Beda means to say, that Giuli was originally 
the name of the winter solstice, and that from it December and January 
received their names (a statement, however, which he himself gives merely as 
his own supposition, or interpretation, as he chooses to call it, and by no means 
as a warranted fact), he may without any hesitation be said to be wrong — the 
more so, as he goes on to say that the day of the allied solstice (to which he 
ascribes in one sentence the name Giuli) was called modraniht^ /.^., night 
of mothers, so that we may conclude from this that it was not called Giuli, 

Such a mass of mutually contradictory facts cannot be explained by being 
ascribed to Beda's inaccurate observation and expression, though he may 
not have understood absolutely all he was told, and not have expressed 
things as carefully as he might have done on a Christian dogmatic subject 
That the names he gives, or at least names similar to them, were used 
within the neighbourhood of Beda's home in his own or his parents' time 
nobody will dispute. But he apparently received from those sources merely 
facts, and no theory with them. The theory he must have formed out of 
what he thought the bearing of the facts. And he was bound to mis- 
understand the bulk of his facts, because he mistook them for ancient 
Anglic customs, whilst, in reality, they were the product of a strange 
shifting of old elements under the influence of the pre-Julian Roman 

^ I owe all calculations about the real dates of solstices to Prof. Hermann Jacobi of Bonn. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 147 

calendar, followed by the Julian calendar, and by the attempts of the 
Church to make the supposed night of the winter solstice, which had been 
made Christ's birthday, the beginning of the year as well So in Beda's 
time there were four distinct layers, one above the other, in the popular 
notions about the course of the year, and if we bear this in mind all the 
seeming difficulties are elucidated. Whilst the observation of new moons 
and full moons among the Germanics had nothing to do with their theory 
of the course of the year, Beda thought it had. Whilst they owed to the 
Romans their leap month and the conception of months altogether, he 
mistook these things for a genuine Anglic growth. Whilst the Germanic 
year began at the beginning of winter, he made the Angles begin their 
year in the middle of it. Whilst the Germanics knew nothing of solstices 
and equinoxes, Beda based his theory of the Germanic year on them, and 
put into the centre of all his theory the 25th day of December, which was 
bound to be dear to him, both as the allied day of the solstice according 
to the Julian calendar, and as the day of Christ's birth, venturing even 
the suggestion that originally that day was called Giuii^ and that December 
and January had got their common name from it. 

That in this suggestion he was wrong, appears from the fact that, 
except in the Anglo-Saxon version of Beda himself, there is no case known 
in which December 25 is called Yule in the three centuries which followed 
Beda's life, />., up to the eleventh century. And even then there are few 
cases which are not doubtful for one reason or another. Either the mss. are 
of too late date, or the original is not preserved, or interpolations are 
suspected. This state of things is the more strange, as December 25 is 
frequently referred to, e,g,^ in the Saxon Chronicle. But it invariably is 
called by the calendar term midwinter, midwinter^s mass, or to Nativited, 
neither the Parker ms. nor the Laud MS. of the Saxon Chronicle containing 
a single Yule, Gebhel, gethhel-dcBg, gebhol, gebhhol, gebl, giUl, Oil are the 
forms appearing in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. When towards the 
end of the eleventh century Jbl,^ with the popular meaning of December 25, 



* There is no doubt that Old Northern j6l. Original Northern jul^ Gothic Jiulns is not 
identical, and has absolutely nothing to do with A.S. kveol. Old Northern kvel^ English 



Digitizeciby VjOOQIC 



148 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

sets in, it is apparently due to Scandinavian influence, where that word had 
come to mean Christmas through Hakon, King of Norway, who reigned 
from 940 to 963, and had shifted to December 25 the date of an old 
February festival, which in the course of time had come to be celebrated 
between January 9 and 14, with the view of celebrating it on the same 

wheel; for the Anglo-Saxon word corresponding to Old Northern j6l is Geoia, gehhol^ 
geohhol (Kluge, Englische Studien^ IX., p. 311 ss.). Deriving with Kluge (EngUsche 
Studien^ IX., 311) and Bugge (Arkiv for Nordisk Fihlogi^ IV., 135), yV^/, A.S. gekhol^ 
from an original Germanic ^jehwela^ and declaring with Bugge the latter as identical with 
Latin joculus^ Professor Mogk (Paul's Grundriss der germanischen PkUologie^ Strassburg, 
1891, Vol. L, p. 1 125) finds this denomination as the "gay festival" appropriate, because 
masquerades, especially in the shape of animals, are the custom then. But, apart from 
the &ct that I regard the establishment of a relation between joculus and *jekwela as a 
very bold etymological attempt : the mummery and masquerade at the b^;inning of January 
are missing just where that time is called Yule. These usages were a Roman Calends-of- 
January custom, and were on Germanic soil limited to Gaul and to the extreme west of 
Germany, where the Roman influence was strongest. Professor Weinhold adduces the 
Cyprian term lot^Xtof, which b assumed to have covered the time from December 22 to 
January 23, and which he, as Grimm's follower, boldly derives from the month of July, 
maintaining that the name of the month of the summer solstice (which, however, is June !) 
was transferred to the time of the winter solstice ! He assumes that the Germanics did 
the same, but foils to perceive that, as the name is found among Goths, Northern Ger- 
manics, and Anglo-Saxons, we should in this case have to assume that it had been 
received at a time when Goths, Scandinavians, and Anglo-Frisians spoke one language. 
He fturther overlooks the fact that, in the Germanic languages, it is not a month-name 
at all, but the name of an Oriental three-score-day tide, so that the alleged analogy 
with the Cyprian name — which is by no means proved to have had anything to do with 
the Roman month of July — does not even hold good, though the whole argument is based 
upon it (Weinhold, Deutsche Monatnamen^ flalle, 1869, p. 4; Deutsche Jahrteilung^ 
1862, p. 15; K. Fr. Hermann, Uber griechische Monaiskunde^ Gottingen, 1844, p. 64; 
Grimm, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache^ 1848, I., pp.* 78 and 106, 107). The form of 
the Greek name varies considerably, as was shown above. In soYne cases it b not clear 
which month is meant Perhaps, we have, as I suggested before, to do there with a 
relic of the same Oriental six-fold division of the year as among the Germanics, and, 
consequently, with the same name for November and December. Perhaps that institution, 
like the whole sexagesimal system of notation, is of Babylonian origin, the sixty minutes 
of the hour and the sixty seconds of the minute being perfect parallels to the sixty days 
of the tide. The sari and sassi of ancient Babylon, which lived in the sixty shekels to 
the minavcA the sixty minas to the talent, and elsewhere, are contained in them. The saros^ 
or sixty, is at the basis of all. Compare Notes and Queries^ Ninth Series, III., p. 136; and 
Max MUller, Chips from a German Workshop^ New Ed., Vol. I., London, 1894, pp.202 ss.,^;^^^^ 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 149 

day as that on which the Christians celebrated the birth of Christ In 
England the new term for Christmas became popular in the twelfth cen- 
tury, but in Scotland not before the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, 
so that it is only in the fifteenth, that mentions of it in Scotland become 
very frequent 

The laws of KLing Alfred, composed about 888, ordained that whoever 
stole on Sunday, or at Christmas, or at Easter, or on Holy Thursday, 
or on Rogation days, or during Lent-fast, should be fined twice as much 
as he who stole at other times. ^ Here on Gehhol apparently does not 
mean the day of Nativity, but the time about that day in so far as it was 
proclaimed holy by the Church, which would not be longer than twelve nights. 
So it shows a decided narrowing of the old term which once covered a 
three-score-day tide, and, later, apparently a single month, but it does 

Lessons of Aniiquiiy, Still more uncertain is the connection of Giuli with the name of 
a Greek Song or exclamation, fovXof: 

Aer^oMdaf revxoiVa iraXdf -f^btv to^kxnn 

(preparing the salted flour she sang the pleasant luloi), Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary 
of the Scottish LanguagCy imder "Yule" says: "Didymus and Athenaeus assert that the 
h)rmn was in honour of Ceres," and the same thing is intimated by Theodoret in his work, 
De Materia et Mundo^ when he says : " Let us not sing the liulos to Ceres, nor the 
Dithyrambos to Bacchos." 

^Thorpe's Ancient Laws and Institutes of England^ London, 1840, Vol. L, p. 64, v. : 
" Sethe staladh 6n Sunnan niht . oththe on Gehhol . oththe on Eastron . oththe on thone Halgan 
Dimres daeg . on Gang-dagas . thara gehwelc we willadh sie twy-bote . swa on Lencten-Besten." 
Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ II., 450 {Alfredi Legum Versio AnHqua) v.: "Qui furatur die 
Dominica, vel in sancto Natali, vel in Pascha, vel in Sancto die lovis, in Ascensione Domini, 
in quolibet eorum volumus duplidter emendandum sit, sicut in quadragesimali jejunio." 
Christmas was to be held for twelve festival days (freols)^ whilst Easter was held for four- 
teen, and in the harvest, a whole week before St. Mary-mass was celebrated. Thorpe's 
Ancient Laws^ Vol. I., p. 92, xliii. : "Be Msesse Daga Freolse: Eallum frioum monnum 
thas dagas sien forgifene butan theowum mannum ond esne-wyrhtum . xii. dagas on Gehhol . 
ond thone dseg the Crist thone deofol oferswidhde . ond Scs Gregorius gemynd-daeg .ond . vii. 
dagas to Eastron ond . vii. ofer ond an dseg aet See Petres tide and See Paules . ond on 
hserfeste tha fidlan wican ser Seta Marian maessan . ond set Eallra haligra weordhunge anne 
daeg . ond . nil. Wodnesdagas on . nil. Vmbren-wican . Dheowum monnum eallum sien 
forgifen tham the him leofost sie to sellanne . seghwset thses the him aenig mon for Godes noman 
geselle. Oththe hie on senegum hiora hwilsticcum geeamian ms^en." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



150 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



not yet mean December 25 alone, a sense which it does not seem to have 
reached before the eleventh century. ^ 

It is the same thing with the first documentary evidence of IbL In it the 
term also means the holy tide about Natale Domini. It occurs in Edward 
the Confessor's writ of privileges to the Abbey of Ramsey, co. Huntingdon,* 



^ Unfortunately of the four manuscripts which contain Aelfred's laws, three are of the 
tenth century and one is of the twelfth centuiy, the MS. British Museum, Nero EI 
belonging to the end of the tenth century, and the Textus Roffensis to the twelfth century 
(WUlker, Grundriss zur Geschichte der angelsdchsischen LiUraiur, Leipzig, 1885, p. 399). 
How cautious one has to be in order not to take later expressions for older ones, the 
following example may show, in which later manuscripts replace middan-wintra by geolum 
and Hres Dryhtttts gebyrd-tide, A note added to Theodore's Book of Penitence {Liber 
Poenitentialis Theodori Archiepiscopi Caniuariensis Ecclesiae), ed. in Thorpe's Ancient Laws 
and Institutes of England^ London, 1840, Vol II., p. 46, cap. xxxviii., § 14 : ** In ilia 
die ante Natale Domini hora nona expleta missa, id est vigilia Domini, manducant Romani ; 
Grseci vero dicta vespere missa coenant/' mentions the different customs of the Roman 
and Greek churches as r^;ards fasting on Christmas eve, without giving any particulars 
about what is to be done. Whilst the Greeks eat not before six p.m., the Romans take 
food after three p.m.; and Ecbert's Confessional and Penitential {Confessionale et Poeni- 
tentiale Ecbertiy Archiepiscopi Eboracensis) ed. in Thorpe's Ancient Laws and Institutes 
of England^ London, 1840, Vol. II., pp. 162, 163, gives details about the fiaist time before 
Christmas: *'L^tima jejunia tria sunt in anno; unum pro onmi populo, ut illud XL. 
diebus ante Pascha, cum decimam partem annuam solvimus; et illud XL. diebus ante 
Natale Domini, cum totus populus pro se orant, et orationes l^unt; et illud XL. diebus 
post Pentecosten ; Dhreo sefsestenu syndon on geare . &n ofer eall folc . swa that XL. nihta 
foran to Ekistron . thonne we thone teodhan sceat thses geares Ijrsad . and that XL. nihta aer 
geolum . thonne gebiddedh hine eall that werod fore . and orationes rsedadh . and that XL. 
nihta ofer Pentecosten." Instead of "geolum," which is the reading of O, Y has 
** middan-wintra," and Bx has "Clres Dryhtnes zebyrd-tfde," while X and Y add the 
following : " On tham aerran daege set geolum [Y, middan-wintra] set ndne sidhdhan msesse 
bydh gesungen. heo gereordiadh Romane. Grecas to aefenne. thonne sefen bidh gesungen and 
msesse . thonne fi5dh hi to mete." Of these O is a small folio MS. of Corpus Christi, C.C. 
190 (L xil); Y is a small narrow volume of the eleventh century, BodUiana^ Laud, F 
17 ; B is a tenth century octavo MS., Corpus Christie 265 (K 2) ; X L$ a us. of about 1000 
A.D. belonging to the Biblioth^ne des Dues de Bourgogne; O, which Thorpe, contrary 
to his custom, has wisely abstained from dating, belongs to the twelfth centuiy, and is 
said to have been given to Exeter Cathedral by Bishop Leofric. 

'John Earle, A Hand- Book to tk4 Land-charters and other Saxonic Documents^ Oxford, 
1888, pp. 344, 345- 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 151 

to be dated between 1042 and 1066, but preserved only in a twelfth 
century manuscript^ 

^ Cottamanay Otho. B.^ XIV., £.'257 : "inne lol and inne Easteme and inne dha h&li 
wuca set Gangdagas.," "in natali dominico, in pascha, et in sancta hebdomada rogationum." 
In the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland for the years 1264 till 1359 {Rotuli Scaccarii Regum 
Scotorum^ ed. by J. Stuart and G. Burnett, Vol. I., 1264- 1359, Edinburgh, 1878), the 
word ** Yule " never occurs ; while in the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scot- 
land from 1473 to 1498 {Compota Thesaurariorum Regum Scotorum^ ed. by Th, Dickson, 
Vol. I., 1473- 1498, Edinburgh, 1877), it is mentioned many times. Even very much 
later. Yule by no means referred to Christmas day exclusively, but to the whole season. 
The History and Chronicles of Scotland^ written in Latin by Hector Boece, and translated 
by John Bellenden, Edinburgh, 1821, Vol. IL, p. 340, Lib. XIII., chap. xiv. (imder 
King Alexander IL, A.D. 1222): "In the third yeir efUr, the Erie of Caithnes come to 
king Alexander, quhen he wes sittand with his modir, on the Epiphany day, at his yuill, 
and desirit grace." Hollinshead, in his Scottish Chronicle^ in which he followed Bellenden, 
even sajrs (under a.d. 1222): "As King Alexander with his mother Enningard were 
sitting at their banket, on the 12th day m Christmas, otherwise called Yule," etc. 
Instances from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, of Yule as identical with Christmas, 
are: 

"Till Auld Meldrum thai yeid thair way, 

And thar with thair men logyt thai. 

Before Yhule ewyn a nycht but mar : 

A thowsand, trow I, weile thai war." 

Barbour, IX., 204, MS. (+ A.D. 1375). 
"A-pon a Yhule-ewyn alsua 

Wyttalis, that to the Kyng suld ga 

Of Ingland, that at Melros lay. 

He met rycht stowtly in the way." 

Wyntown, VIII. , 36, 39 (+ circa A.D. 1430). 
The spelling in the last quarter of the fifteenth century is Yule, Ywle, Yole, and Yowle 
{Compota Thesaurariorum Regum Scatorum^ Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scot- 
land^ ed. by Thomas Dickson, Vol. I., 1473-1498, Edinburgh, 1877: Yule, p. 17; 
Ywle, p. 99; Yole, p. 239; Yowle, p. 245), and the term was used as identical with 
Christmas. P. 17, "fra Pasche to Yule," from Easter to Christmas; p. 99, again Ywle, a 
short time before Christmas; p. 239 gives quite a number of points of time, from "the 
VIII. day of November" and "Sanct Martinis day" to "Sanct Nicholas day" (on which 
also "tua Sanct Nicholas bischoppis"|ippear who receive "xxxvi. s."), " Sanct Androis day," 
and " Yole," the festival at which day is called " the Kingis Yole." We find there the 
terms used: "upone Yole day"; "Sonday eftir Yole," and (p. 240) simply "eflir Yole." 
On p. 240 also occur "vpone Newger daye" and "on Vphaliday"; while p. 241 has 
"on Candilmess day," "on Sanct Patrikis day," "agane Pasche," "before Pasche," 
"on Pasche day" (twice); and p. 242, "vpone Sanct James daye," "vpone Sanct 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



152 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Beda's report contains another item which must be touched upon. He 
says, the ancient Angles "began their year from the eighth day before 
the Calends of January, on which we now celebrate the birthday of the 
Lord. And they then called that night, which is now sacrosanct to us, 
by a native word, Modranicht^ />., night of mothers, as I suppose because 
of the ceremonies which they performed in it, keeping watch all night" 
However critical the attitude one may take up towards Beda's etymologies 
and theories about the course of the year, there is no getting over the 
fact of the word modranicht being applied in his time to December 25, 
a word which admits of one translation only, that translation being: 
night of mothers. This word has been the centre of much discussion, 
and the object of a number of very divergent explanations. Jacob Grimm 
thought of the mothers of Heimdallr^ of whom Scandinavian poetry tells 
us \ others thought of the mother of gods worshipped by a Germanic tribe, 
according to Tacitus;^ others of a Germanic belief in a newly-born sun. 
But all these suggestions have lately been driven into the background by 
another theory started by Professor Eugen Mogk of Leipzig. He supposed 
Beda's word to refer to the Matronae of Romano-Germanic inscriptions, 



Michaelis day," and "the vi. day of Nouember.** As a £unily name Yule (Yole) appears 
in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland^ Vol. IV., 1406-1436, pp. 411, 621, 675 and elsewhere. 
In 1494 at the "Royvl Court of Scotland some timber was bought from Jonete Gule. Item, 
for III.** burdis fra Jonete Gule in. U. xv. s. (Compota Thesaurariorum Regum Scoiorum^ 
Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland^ ed. by Thomas Dickson, Edinbuigh, 
1877, p. 252). As late as 1636 datings occur like "dedmo tertio die mensis Januarii 
nuncupato lie twentie day of Yule** {Charters cmd other Documents relating to the City of 
Glasgow^ A.D. 1 175-1649, Part II., edited by Sir James D. Marwick, Glasgow, 1894, 
p. 386, "Charter by King Charles I."). The cases in which Yule unmistakably means 
December 25 to the exclusion of any adjoining days are very rare and very late. A case 
from A.D. 1535 is, e,g,^ the following taken from Extracts from the Records of The Burgh 
of Edinburgh (A.D. 1528-1557), Edinbuigh, 1 87 1, p. 71: "It is statute and ordanit [be] 
the provest baillies and counsale that all nichtboures within this towne, merchandis and 
crafUsmen, as thai ar of power, till fumis cortise till pas and convoy the provest fra the 
kirk till his awin hows after evin sang in the haly dayes of Yule, New Ydr day, and 
Vphaly day, vnder the payne of xviii. shillingis to be tane of thame that wanttis cortise, 
and at every deykin haif power till poynd his craft for the samyn." 

^**Matrem de(km venerantur Aestii; insigne superstitionim fbrmas aprorum gestant" 
{Germania, chap. xlv.). 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 153 

whom he identifies with Old Scandinavian dlsar^ and to a cult of the dead 
about that time of the year.^ He, besides, takes Beda's name modra-nicht 
as a collective singular denoting a number of nights, a whole holy tide, 
devoted to the dead, the female genii of protection, the souls of the 
deceased, whilst Beda decidedly speaks of a single night only. But if one 
goes so far, one may go further. In classical literatiure even there is a 
mention of deities called the Mothers. Plutarch tells us^ that the town of 
Engyon, of Sicily, was celebrated for the appearance of goddesses who 
were called the Mothers, Such Mothers^ mostly three in number, appear 
rather frequently in inscriptions in Germanic countries which had come 
into close contact with the Romans, while they are lacking entirely in 
Scandinavia and Iceland.^ Professor Mogk's opinion is untenable, because 

^ In his MythologU in Paul's Grtmdriss der gemianischen Philologie^ Strassburg, 1891, 
I., p. 1126. 

'In his AiarceUuSf chap. xx. 

'Dr. Collingwood Bruce, in his Handbook to the Roman IVall : a Guide to Tourists 
traversing the Barrier of the Lower Isthmus y 3rd edition, London, Longmans, 1885, says 
p. 155 s. : "It may be well also to mention that the worship of the Deae Matres—ihe 
good mothers — whose name it was not lucky to mention, was much in vogue with the 
Romans of a later age, especially with the Gothic portion of the Roman community. 
Several statues of them have been found here ; two of these, shown in the woodcuts on 
the previous page (155), are now preserved in the Museum of the Newcastle Society of 
Antiquaries. These figures usually occur in triplets." On p. 201 another statue of one 
of the £>eae Matrcs is mentioned, which was found at Birdoswald, the Amlx^lanna of the 
Romans, the twelfth station of the Roman Wall of England. It is represented by Dr. 
Bruce in a woodcut on p. 202. The body of the figure was, in 1885, kept in a farmhouse, 
while the head was preserved in the Museum of Newcastle. Other examples are contained 
in the Corpus Inscriptumum Britannicarum^ Vol. VII., Additamenta quarta^ p. 282, 
No. 844, a stone of Oimulodunum now kept in the Museum there. It has the inscription : 
" Matribus Sulevis Similis Atti f(ilius) ci(vis) Cant(ius) v(otum) l(ibens) s(olvit)." Another 
inscription (927) is devoted to the Domestic Mothers: "Civliv Crescesi Matribus 
Domesdds vs m. L*' (found in St. Mary's Convent, Eburacum). Nos. 980 and 992, 993, 
seem to belong to the same group, and perhaps even 1017 : ** (Mat ?)ribus com- 
(munibus?) (p)ro salute de(curiae?) (A)ur(elii) Severi," because there is another stone 
devoted, "Matribus Com(mumbus)" (1032); 1054, "Matribus . . . ndus," 1081 ; apart 
of an altar having the inscripdon, " Matribus tr(a)mar(inis)," 1091, which shows the 
syllables "Ma," "SA" may be attributed to Mars as well as to the Matres, Perhaps 
the most important inscription is 1186: "I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) Tarami Belatucabro 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



154 VULE AND CHRISTMAS 

it rests on the assumption that there once was a Germanic dead festival 
about the middle of winter. But it was shown above that the facts which 
seem to support such an opinion do not in reality support it For at their 
basis is the Egyptio-Roman " Table of Fortune," and no sacrifice to the dead. 
He who dares to put that interpretation upon Beda's words may assume 
that in it these deities are referred to. But it is certain that he has not 
properly read Beda's words. 

Beda himself says that he does not know why the Angles called that 
night modranichty and expressly gives his explanation as a supposition of 
his own, introduced by the words "as I suppose" {ut suspicamur). The 
allusion he makes by way of explanation is not to goddesses called The 
Mothers^ as he speaks of a goddess Hreda or a goddess Eostre in the 
same chapter; but just as he derives the name Solmanoth from the cake 
baked, or the name Blotmanoth from the immolation made, so he ascribes the 
name modranicht to the ceremonies which were performed, and by no means 
to the object of veneration, a certain deity. Whilst he elsewhere clearly 
states the tertium comparationis^ he in this case refrains from it, simply 
remarking that the name modranicht is probably due to certain ceremonies 
of which he knows, but does not care to inform the reader. There is 
only one explanation tenable: these ceremonies were of a maternal char- 
acter, being either exercised by human mothers, or having as their chief 
constituent something maternal or referring to the natural functions of mother- 
hood. Customs of that kind are certainly found in the Roman Matronalia 
and in the Calends-of- January customs on the banks of the Rhine. 

The Romans celebrated, on the first of March, the Calendae Feminarum^ 
the so-called Matronalia^ at which the married ladies of Rome went to 
the Esquiline Hill to the temple of Lucina — celebrating the festival of 
matrimony.^ If that festival had been brought to Britain by Roman l^ons, 
it could, when the beginning of the year was, by the Julian calendar, shifted 



Mogvnto . . . Movno . . . Deabus Matribus Deae Svriae Fortunae ceterisq(ue) Britannonim 
Dis Deabusq(ue) C(uin) verius Fortis(simis) Trib(us) Coh(ortibus) I(ulius) Ael(iaQus), 
Britonnpcus) V(otum) S(olvit)." 
^Ovid, FasHy III., 179 ss. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 155 

from March i to January i, have been removed with it to the Calends of 
January, and, when the Christian birthday of Christ, on December 25, 
b^an to compete with the Calends of January, have been transferred to 
that day. Something similar, indeed, seems to have taken place on the 
banks of the Rhine in Germany, where on the Calends of January, men 
went about in women's dresses, using that disguise as a means for all 
kinds of sexual transgressions, or women went about in hides of hinds, 
whilst men wore hides of stags, licentiousness of every description pre- 
vailing.^ But I do not think that Beda thought of things like these. 
Had he done so, he would probably have used stronger language, mentioning 
the abominable disgrace of heathendom. And there certainly is something 
decidedly Christian in the report, the keeping watch all nighty a peculiarity 
of the early Church which again and again occurs at Christmas eve and 
at Pasch eve, and about which elaborate rules existed. If the custom 
he referred to was Christian, or might be considered as Christian, or as 
happening even in a Christian Anglic community, by those who might 
read his record, the reserve Beda uses in this case would be explained 
only too welL And there were indeed such usages in the early Church, 
ceremonies which had evolved out of the Roman Calends usage of preparing 
and eating cakes with certain observances. These had got into very close 
connection to motherhood, producing a kind of obscene cult, in which the 
motherhood of the Virgin Mary and the peculiarities of Christ's birth were 
not only made the object of veneration, but were expressed in visible 
symbols in the shape of cakes. In such celebrations human mothers no 
doubt took the leading part From the night of birth to the night of mother- 
hood and the night of mothers there are only two small steps. That the 
night of the birth of a child should be dedicated to all mothers or to 
motherhood is only natural. But over and above, we can prove the exist- 
ence of such a cult, exactly contemporaneous with Beda, because it was 
forbidden by the Council of Trullus, a.d. 706. The development of a 



^HomiHa De Sacrikgiis^ ed. by Caspari, Christiama, 1886: '*£t illud quid turpe est ! 
Viri tunicis mulierum induentes se feminas videri volunt." See the list of cases quoted in 
the above chapter headed the "Calends of January." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



156 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

cult of the Virgin Mary instead of that of her divine son, is clearly traceable 
in the Councils of the early Church. Seeking for ever-new objects of 
veneration and supplying the "eternal feminine," which was found lacking 
in the new religion, orientals and occidentals gave visible expression to all 
kinds of wild fancies about the act of Christ's birth, so that the Church 
had again and again to declare that he was bom quite unlike human 
babies,* and above all, without an afterbirth, so that it was quite senseless of 
people to bake, divide, and eat a cake in honour of the afterbirth of the im- 
maculate Virgin. Later, even the confinement of the Virgin seems to have 
been made the subject of imitation.^ Beda was bound to know that custom 
as a heathen and abominable custom, it having been interdicted and having 
been alluded to in the Decrees of Pope Hormisdas (514-523), and in the 
canons of the Lateran Council of a.d. 649 under Pope Martin I., which 
had been brought to Great Britain by John the Precentor and adopted by the 
Council of Hatfield, a.d. 680. During Beda's own life-time the whole matter 
had been thoroughly treated in Canon LXXIX. of the Council of Trullus, 
A.D. 706. But, of course, he could know customs of that kind only from 
hearsay, or from his own experience, at any rate only as being contem- 
poraneous. That in a thing so wicked, which to his pure mind was so 
unsympathetic, he did not see a growth upon the soil of the Church, but 



^Acta Conciliorumy Parisiis, 1714, Vol. III., col. 1690, Concilium Quinisextum sive in 
Trullo, A.D. 706, Canon Ixxix. : ''Absque uUis secundis ex Virgine partmn esse 
confltentes ut qui sine semine constitutus sit, idque toti gr^ annuntiantes, eos, qui propter 
ignorantiam aliquid fiiciunt quod non decet, correctioni subiidmus. Quare quoniam 
aliqui post sanctae Christi Dei nostri nativitatis diem similam coquere ostenduntur, et earn 
sibi invicem impertiri, honoris scilicet praetextu secundinarum impoUutae Viiginis matris 
..." Ibid,, VoL II., col. 1014, Decrees of Pope Hormisdas (A.D. 514-523), iil; Haddan 
and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Irekutd, 
Oxford, 1 87 1, Vol. IIL, p. 146, De Beata Virgine, 

' It is a strange chance that we are able to show that this custom of representing in 
some way the confinement of the Virgin spread also over Great Britain, taking there even 
a more characteristic form. As late as 1800 it prevailed in Scotland (Jamieson, An 
Etymological Dictionary of tht Scottish Language, under "Yule," VII.), where on the morn- 
ing of the twenty-fifth of December one got up before the rest of the &mily and prepared 
food for them, which had to be eaten in bed. This frequently consisted of cakes baken 
with eggs, called Care-cakes. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



BEDA, DE MENSIBUS ANGLORUM 157 

a relic of heathendom, we cannot wonder. And he was not wrong therein. 
He erred only in so far as he did not ascribe it to the Roman Calends of 
January, at which the Strenae were in vogue, but to an imaginary cult 
exercised by the Angles in the very night on which the Church had fixed 
Christ's birthday. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER XII. 

NATIVITY, CHRISTES MMSS, AND CHRISTMAS. 

Whenever December 25 is named in early Anglo-Saxon literature, it 
bears a simple calendar name — based on the Julian calendar, which, as 
we know through Beda, had become a kind of self-evident presupposition 
as early as the end of the seventh century in Britain — the name mid- 
win/er; and it is not difficult to trace by the medium of historical documents 
the development of the denominations used for it. As in so many other 
cases, the Saxon Chronicle affords abundant evidence. The Parker ms. 
of it under a.d. 763 has the entry: "<?« thone feowertegan dtBg ofer midne 
winter^^ showing midwinter to be a pure calendar term ; whilst half a century 
after, in 827, that term has evolved into an official mass of the Church: 
" on middes wintres masse niht,** Another half century, and a new element 
again joins the two which are united in that term, the twelfth night 
after December 25 : " here on midtie wiHt ofer tuelftan niht^ In 885 
there occurs the term used as a means of determining a day previous to 
it: "My iican geare cer middum wintra^' to which in 898 a similar dating 
by midsummer is added : ^^nigum nihtum cer middum sumere^* In the Laud 
MS. of the Chronicle (E), which represents the larger group of versions,* 
midewinter appears first in 762. But after the year 810 (when a new 
mode of annal-writing was adopted) the same date is mentioned as "^« 
middes wintres messa niht^' in 827; and in 878 as "(?« midne winter 
ofer twelftan nihi^^ all three entries being also contained in the Parker ms. 

1 Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel^ ed. by John Earle, Oxford, 1865, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



NATIVITY, CHRISTES MMSS, AND CHRISTMAS 159 

(A), though the first of them under a.d. 763. Then middan wintra 
(A.D. 885) is for a long time the only denomination for December 25 
(to which in 918 middan sumera is added, which is at the same time 
clearly marked to mean June 24), now and then ^Un than midde wintres 
tide*^ (a.d. 1006 and 1016) appearing instead. Subsequently, with the year 
161 7, an altogether new method of dating commenced — in 1038 the same 
date is named for the first time Cristes massati^ 1043 having ^^to CrUifis 
nuzssan on Stephanes masse dag^ whilst mide winter again appears Jrom 
1075 to 1086.^ In 1091 several changes set in. Midwinter is replaced 
by Cristes massa \ ^ regular mention is made of the king staying at a 
certain place at Christmas — this statement thenceforward being always 
the first in the year, making it appear that firom that date the year was 
no longer begun with January i, but with December 25.* In 1002 
December 25 is called for the first time to Natiuitedh^^ whilst in 1103 to 
mideivinira turns up again, and 1115, tii6, 1122 and 1123 add new 
terms: 11 22, **on thcere nihte uigilia Natalis DominV^ \ and 1123, "^« Cristes 
tyde>^ In 1131 Cristesmesse is for the first time written in one word, so 
that then it can be said to have become a regular compound, with only 
one main emphasis. Other sources are in perfect agreement with this 
system of nomenclature.^ 

^A.D. 1075, 1083, 1085, 1086 (twice). 

'a.d. 1091, 1094-1101, 1 105, 1 107, 1109-1111, 1 121, 1 122, 1 124 (twice), 1 125 
(twice), 1127 (twice), 1131. 

'In England as early as 1085 the year seems to have begun with December 25, 
according to the report given in the Laud MS. of the Council held by the king at 
Christmas at Gloucester. As to the Continent, compare note F, p. 135. 

^ Again in 1105, 1106, 1107 (which^ besides, has Cristes tmBssan\ 1113, 11 14. 

* Thorpe's Ancient Laws^ II., 207, Pomitentiale Ecgberti, 11 : **Si quis cum alterius 
hominis legitima uxore fomicari vellet, et ilia consentire nollet, pro prava sua cupidine, in. 
quadragesimas in pane et aqua jejunet ; unam quadragesimam ante mediam aestatem, et 
alteram ante aequinoctium autumnale, et tertiam ante Natale Domini (dn lencten foran 
to middan-sumera and odher foran to haerfestes emnihte. and thridde to middan- wintere)." 
Ibid,^ II., 208, 12: "Unam quadragesimam ante Pascha, et alteram post Pentecosten, 
et tertiam ante Natale Domini (in lencten ser Eastron. and odher ofer Pentecosten. and 
thridde ser middan wintra)." Ibid,, II., 211, 22: "Unam quadragesimam ante Natale 
Christi, tn lengten foran to middan-wintra." JbiJ,, II., 211, 23: "Ante Natale Christ!, 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



i6o YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Although in Germany— here and there at least— similar terms are found,^ 
e,g,, to myddewynter^ on the whole, quite different denominations prevail 
The Germans formed for a number of Christian holy tides compounds with 
their word vokhy holy. As they had for popular festivals the word hdgetidi 
(Old-Saxon) or hdchgesAt (Middle-High-German), i.^., high tide, so they had 
the word vAhtldi (Old-Saxon), /.^., holy tide. With a derivation from nAch 
they called the Ember-days (Quatembers) vAchfasten^ or later, weichfasten^ 
which nobody will deny to be a purely ecclesiastical invention. And the 
same word they used to create a term for the ecclesiastical bearing of 
December 35. To denote an individual day they used the word naJity 
night, thus forming KrisHsnaht^ and uAchnaht^ or for the plurality of four 
days v/lhnahim.^ 

After the year 800, when the Pope on that date crowned Charlemagne 
Roman Emperor, Christ's birthday was a day frequently chosen for state 
ceremonies. And this apparently was the reason why William the Con- 
queror, who won the battle of Hastings late in autumn 1066, chose it 



foran to middan wintra." Thorpe's At$cunt Laws, I., p. 220, iv. : *'i£dhelstan cyng 
cydh that ic haebbe geahsod that ure firidh is wyrse gehealden thonne me lyste. oththe 
hit aet Greatanlea gecweden waere. ond mine witan secgadh that ic fait to lange 
forboren haebbe. Nu haebbe ic gefiinden mid thaem witum the mid me waeron aet 
Exan-ceastre to middan- wintre," etc. The term Chrystismess lived on for at least four 
centuries, it still being found about 1460 in ** Blind Harry's" Thi IVallace^ v. 561 : 
** This Chrystismess Wallace ramaynyt thar ; 
In Laynrik oft till sport he maid repayr." 

^Kempen, Town- Archive, D. i, No. i, about 1442: "Heflft in myn hant ghetastet 
gheloefflyke myn gelt to gheven in den ver hylghen daghen to myddewynter." 

***An der Kristisnacht d6 begunde he zu g6ne" {Afyst., 48, i) ; "an der beiligen 
Christisnacht, /fr<?x<:^iW Pf. 58*, MUller und Zamcke, Mittelhochdeutsches Worterbmh, 
I., 301. 

'"Gegen disen wtnnahten TanMser^^* MS. H 2, 93*; "ru nOiest bt wtnachten,'' 
Pass, K, 46, 47; "swer zu wtnachten singet vor den hflsem," Saa^elder Stadtreckt^ 
Wackemagel, Uteraturgeschuhtey I., p. 259, note 9; **zu weinachten," MUnchner 
Stadtrecht, VII., 94; "n^ch einen whiachten tagen," Biterolf, 478; "an dem zwelften 
tag ndch wichen nachten," ZUricher Jahrbuch, 69, 5 ; "uf den hailgen tag zuo Wtchen- 
nachten," Ibid^y 80,33; "«>o Wfchennachten ^ den ziestag," Ibid,, 92, 13; "an der 
kindlt tag zuo wichen niichten," Ibid,^ 94, 33. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



NATIVITY, CHRISTES MMSS, AND CHRISTMAS i6i 

for his coronation at Westminster^ a Christmas Day which opened a 
new chapter in the history of Britain. He apparently introduced a court 
festival on December 25, for from 1085 the Laud ms. of the Saxon Ckranicle 
begins to state regularly where the king kept that festive time. In 1085, 
when he held court for several da,y% at Gloucester, he knighted his son 
Henry.2 In 1165 ^^ Scottish king, William the Lion, was crowned on the 
same day.^ The coronation ceremonies and courts at Christmas were other 
steps towards something like a popularising of the English Church 
festival among the wider circles of the people. Florence of Worcester 
( + A.D. 1 108) also mentions the first court held by an English king, at 
Nativity, under the year 1065, which has to be regarded as the first secular 
celebration of Christ's birthday in Great Britain.* 

* Florence of Worcester, under 1066: "Willielmus . . . ipsa Nativitatis die, quae illo 
anno evenit, ab Aldredo Eboracensium archiepiscopo in Westmonasterio consecratus est 
honorifice." 

"The Saxon Chronicle tells, under the year 1087, of William the Conqueror : "Thrice 
he wore his crown every year, as often as he was in England; at Easter he wore it at 
Winchester ; at Whitsuntide at Westminster ; at Midwinter at Gloucester ; and then were 
with him aU the rich men over aU England, archbishops and suffragan bbhops, abbots and 
earls, thegns and knights" (William Stubbs, Select Charters and Other Illustrations of 
English Constitutional History, Oxford, 1884, p. 81). 

'There is a great number of other cases : The Historians of Scotland, Vol. I., Johannis 
de Fordun, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, Edinburgh, 1871, p. 259 (ad annum 1165): 
"Igitur in vigilia natalis Domini, die videlicet xv. post regis mortem, idem Willelmus, 
amicus Dei« leo justiciae, princeps pacis, a Ricardo episcopo Sancti Andreae, et aliis 
episcopis coadjuvantibus, in regem benedicitur, atque r^ali cathedra sublimatur." 

^He has, in his Chronicle, the following dates according to the Saints' Calendar 
(Monumenia Historica Britannica, I.): 

" 696 Dies natalis beatissimae Caeciliae virginis (November 22). 

917 Ante Nativitatem S. Johannis Baptistae (June 24). 

918 Post Nativitatem S. Johannis Baptistae (June 24). 
102 1 Ante festivitatem S. Martini (November 11). 
1029 Post festivitatem S. Martini (November 11). 
1043 Ante festivitatem S. Andreae (November 30). 

1052 In nocte festivitatis S. Thomae (December 18). 

1053 In festivitate S. Kenelmi martiris (July 17). V^ 
1065 Post festivitatem Omnium Sanctorum (November i). 

In nativitate Domini (December 25). 
Die sanctorum Innocentium (December 28). 
h 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



1 62 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

At royal courts the NataU Domini had soon become a great day for royal 
pomp and splendour. On that day, in consequence, any humiliation was felt 
twice as much as on any other. That was apparently the reason why King 
Magnus of Norway, the son of Olav and grandson of Harald Harfagr, in 
1098 sent to King Murecard of Ireland his shoes, with the order to carry 
them on that day through his palace in the presence of his ambassadors, 
in order to show that he confessed himself to be a subject of King Magnus.^ 
From the end of the tenth century, Nativity banqueting must have become 
somewhat commoner, as legal regulations begin to refer to it^ In Wales 

1065 Epiphaniae Domini vigilia (January 5). 

Post haec rex Eadwardus paulatim aegrotare coepit. In Nativitate vero 
Domini curiam suam, ut potuit, Lundoniae tenuit 

1066 Willielmus . . . ipsa Nadvitads die, quae illo anno feria seconda evenit, 

ab Aldredo Eboracensium archiepiscopo in Westmonasterio conse- 
cratus est honorifice." 

^King Murecard carried the shoes, at the same time declaring that he would rather 
eat King Magnus's shoes in addition, than allow him to conquer a single province of 
Ireland. Chronica Regum Manniae et Insu/arum, The Chronicle of Man and the 
Sudreys, edited from the Manuscript Codex in the British Museum, and with historical 
notes by P. A. Munch, Christiania, i860, p. 6, under Anno Mxcviii. : «* Murecardo 
regi Vbemiae misit calceamenta sua, praedpiens ei ut ea super humeros suos in die 
natalis Domini per medium domus suae portaret in conspectu nundorum ejus, quatinus 
intelligeret se subjectum esse Magno regi Quod audientes Ybemenses, aegre ferebant, 
et indignati sunt nimis. Sed rex saniori consilio usus, non solum, inquit, calceamenta 
ejus portare, verum etiam manducare mallem, quam Magnus rex unam provindam 
in Ybemia destrueret. Itaque complevit praeceptum et nuncios honoravit. Multa 
quoque munera per eos Magno regi transmisit, et foedus composuit. Nuncii vero redeuntes 
ad dominum suum nanraverunt ei de situ Ybemiae et amoenitate, de fhigum fertilitate et 
aeris salubritate. Magnus vero haec audiens, nihil cogitabat quam totam Ybemiam sibi 
subjugare. Itaque praecepit dassem congregare, ipse vero cum sexdedm navibus procedens, 
explorare volens terram, cum incaute a navibus discessisset, subito ab Ybemensibus 
drcumvallatus, interiit cum omnibus fere qui secum erant.** 

' De Institutis Lundoniae^ et primum qucte portae odservadantur (under King Ethelred, 
991-1016), in Thorpe's Ancient Laws, I., p. 300: *'Et homines Imperatoris, qui veniebant 
in navibus suis, bonarum legum digni tenebantur, sicut et nos. Praeter discarcatam lanam, 
et diss[orjutum unctum et tres porcos vivos licebat eis emere in naves suas ; et non licebat 
eis allquod forceapum fieu:ere burhmannis, et dare tdonium suum ; et in sancto Natali 
Domini duos grisengos pannos, et unum brunum, et decem libras piperis, et drotecas 
quinque hominum, et duos caballinos tonellos aceto plenos, et totid^n in Pascha; de 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



NATIVITY, CHRISTES M^SS, AND CHRISTMAS 163 

the first Nativity feasting occurs between 1056 and 1064,1 in Ireland in 
1171.* 

On German ground the first great historical Nativity feasting appears 
about the middle of the eleventh century in the far-away North. At that 
festival Archbishop^ Adalbert of Bremen, who died in 1072, was present, 

dosseris cum gallinis I. gallina telofl, et de uno dossero cum ovb v. ova telonei, si veniant 
ad mercatum. Smeremangestre, que mangonant in caseo et butiro, xiiii. diebus ante 
Natale Domini, unum denarium, et septem diebus post Natale, unuro alium." 

^Haddao and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents^ Oxford, 1869, Vol. I., 
p. 294: " Et finnata missis manibus super quatuor euangelia, et in manu Heruualdi Episcopi 
consolidata, et coram omni populo suo, in die Natiuitatis Domini apud Ystumguy"; Ibid,^ 
I., 295 (a.d. 1056- 1087): "Liber Landav. Familia Catgucauni Regis Morcannuc, filii 
Mourici, in die Nativitatis Domini, visitavit Landauiam bono affectu, et (ut dicitur de 
virga Aaron versa in draconem) animus illius femiliae tardus ad sperandum bonum, velox ad 
faciendum malum ; et ditatus prae nimio gaudio tantae festivitatis, cepit baccare copia 
potationis, sequestrata discretione sobrietatis ; in tantum quod imperfecti viri, amissa vi 
sdentiae et pietatis, devastaverunt unum fiamiliarem et nepotem Hergualdi Episcopi, 
Berthutis nomine, virum iustum, et medicum totius patriae." 

^ Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores post Baedam praecipm, London, 1596, Rogeri Hovedeni 
Annaliumy pars posterior, p. 302, under "Henricus IL'* in 1171 : *' Rex Angliae 
perrexit inde usque Diueline, et ibi moram fedt a festo S. Martini, usque ad caput 
ieiunii: ibique fedt sibi construi iuxta ecclesiam S. Andreae apostoli extra civitatem 
Diueliniae, palatium regium miro artiBcio, de virgis leuigatis ad modum patriae illius 
constructum. In quo ipse cum regibus et principibus Hybemiae festum solemne tenuit 
die natalis Domini." The same is told by Giraldus Cambrensis, who, however, adds 
some details. AngHcc^ Normannica^ Hibemica^ Cambrica^ a Veteribus Scripta^ Francofurti, 
1603. Giraldi Cambrensis Expugnatio Hibemiae, chap, xxxii., p. 776, under a.d. 1171 : 
[Henricus II.] "Imminente vero Dominici Natalis solemnitate, Dubliniam terrae illius 
Prindpes ad Curiam videndam accessere quam plurimi. Ubi et lautam Anglicanae mensae 
copiam vetustissimam quoque vemarum obsequium plurimum admirantes; came gruina, 
quam hactenus abhorruerant regia voluntate passim per aulam, vesd ceperunt." 

' Erpoldi Lindenbrogii Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum Septenirumalium^ Vicinorumque 
Popuhrum Veteres diversiy etc, ed. Jo. Albertus Fabridus, Hamburgi, 1706, M. Adami 
Bremensis Historia Ecclesiastica (Adun became Canonicm Bremensis in 1077), Lib. IV., 
chap, xxxix., p. 53: "In die itaque natalis Domini, cum Magnus Dux praesens adesset, 
magnaque recumbentium multitudo, hilares conviv» pro sua consuetudine finitis epulis 
plausum cum voce levaverunt. Quod tamen non parum displicuit Archiepiscopo [Adalberto 
+ 1072]. Itaque innuens fratribus nostris, qui simul aderant, praecepit Cantori, ut imponeret 
Antiphonam, Hymnum cantate nobis. At vero laids denuo perstrepentibus, inchoari fedt : 
Suslinuimus pacem et non venit Domine, Tertio vero cum adhuc in poculis ulularent, 
iratus valde, levari mensam praecepit, magna voce pronundans : Converte Domine captivi- 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



l64 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

while the banquet was also attended by Duke Magnus, and a great crowd 
of others. The dinner being over, the duke and his people began to sing 
or shout songs or exclamations, which displeased the archbishop. He 
therefore ordered the clerical members of the feast to sing some clerical 
song, which they did without being able to defy their secular opponents. 
In high dudgeon, Adalbert therefore ordered in a loud voice the table 
to be lifted, asking God to free him from such captivity. Then, with 
his followers, he retired into the oratory, weeping bitterly. 

The festive time about December 25 and January 6 evolves before 
our eyes, and receives one characteristic after another. Work on 
festival days is suppressed as early as in the Laws of Edward and 
Guthrum. Through it a freeman forfeits his freedom, or pays wite or 
lahrslU, And if a lord oblige his theow to work on a festival day, 
he has to pay lah-slit within the Danish law, and wite among the 
English.^ Ordeal and oaths are forbidden on festival days.^ 

Under King Ethelred (991-1016), the older inhibition of ordeals and 
oaths on festival-days was repeated, and this inhibition extended to the 
regular Ember-days, and from Advent till the octaves of Epiphany; and 
from Septuagesima till fifteen days after Easter; and at those holy tides 
there was to be with all Christian men general peace and concord, even 
strife being appeased.* If any one owed another borh or hot on 

totem nostram ; respondente choro ; sicut torrens in austro» Ita ille nobb pone seqaentibus, 
in oratorium redusus, flevit amare. Non cessado, ait, a fletu^ donee Justus judex fortis et 
pattens liberet Eccltsiam meam: vel potius suam ; quam Pastore contempto videt miserabiHter 
a lupis diseerpi. Impietum est enim desiderium eorum^ qui dixerunt : //areditate possideamus 
sanetuarium Dei, et quiscere faciatnus omnes dies festos Dei a terra, et disperdamus eos de 
gente, et non memoretur nomen Israel ultra, Exsurge: quare obdomtis, Domine, et ne 
repellas in finem. Quia superbia eorum qui te aderunt, ascendit semper. Miserere nostri, 
quoniam multum repleti sumus despectione. Quoniam quern tu percussisti, persequuti sunt, 
et super dolorem vulnerum meorum addideruntJ^ 

* Thorpe's Ancient Laws, I,, p. 172, 7; the A.S. term \s freols-dage, 

^Ibid,, p. 172, No. ix. : "Ordel ond adhas syndan tocwedene freols-dagum ond rihl 
fsesten-dagum." 

* Thorpe's Ancient Laws, I., p. 309, xviiL : '*And ordiU and 4dhar sindon tocweden 
fre61s-dagum. and riht Ymbren-dagum. and fram Adventum Domini odh octabas Epiphanie. 
and fram Septuagesimam odh xv. niht ofer Eastran." zix. ** And beo tham h&lgum ttdan 
eal swa hit riht is. eallum cristenum mannum sib and sdm gemsene. and aelc sacu g;etw9emed/' 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



NATIVITY, CHRISTES MiESS, AND CHRISTMAS 165 

account of secular matters, he was to fulfil it willingly before or after, 
but not within the festive tide.^ In Germany the same habits can be 
proved to have existed about 1400.* 

Edward the Confessor ordained again that strict peace was to be 
kept from Christ's Nativity till a week after Epiphany, ie,^ the entire holy 
tide, which in previous centuries, as has been shown above in the 
chapter on the Nativity of Christ, had been exempt from Friday fasting, 
and later had been called Gehhol^ With little alterations these pro- 
hibitions appeared again in the so^alled Laws of King Cnut, which were 
manufactured in the beginning of the twelfth century^ The same holds 



* Thorpe's Ancient Lanvs^ p. 308, xx, : " And gif hwft odhrum scyle borh oththon b6te 
aet woroldlican thingan. gelaeste hit georne. aer oththon aeften." The same regulations are 
repeated in the resolutions passed at the Council of Enam, IHd,^ I., p. 320, xxiL-xxv. 

* Rees, Rhine-country, Town- Archive, BUrgerbuch, fol. 6** : "Item desselben gelijck sail 
et oick vry wesen in den twaelff nachten ende in onsen jair marckten ende kirmissen 
ende als men onse vrouwe dreghet"; {vry wesen^ i>., there shall be no law courts). 

•Thorpe's Ancient Laws, L, 443, Leges Edwardi Confessoris (1042-1066): "Quibus 
temporibus pax servanda est." ii. '*Ab adventu Domini usque ad octavas Epiphaniae pax 
Dei et sanctae ecclesiae per omne regnum. Similiter a Septuagesima usque ad octavas 
Paschae. Item ab Ascensione Domini usque ad octavas Pentecostes. Item omnibus 
diebus iiii, temporum. Item omnibus Sabatis totius anni, ab hora nona, et totum diem 
sequentem. Item vigilia Sanctae Mariae, Sancti Michaelis, Sancti lohannis Baptistae, 
sanctorum omnium Apostolorum, et Sanctorum illorum quorum festivitates a sacerdotibus 
in ecclesia diebus Dominicis annundabuntur, et Omnium Sanctorum kalendis Novembris, 
semper ab hora nona vigiliarum et totum diem sequentem. Item in festivitatum 
celebrationibus Sanctorum quicumque fiierint in parochiis ubi sunt ecclesiae eorum." The 
king's peace, however, was different. Ibid., I. p. 447: "Pax regis multiplex est. Alia 
data manu sua, quam Anglid vocant kinges hand-sealde gridh. Alia die qua primum 
coronatus est; ipsa habet viii. dies. In Natali Domini, viii. dies; et viii. dies Paschae, 
et VIII. dies Pentecostes," etc. 

* Thorpe's Ancient Laws, I., p. 368: **De leiuniis." xvi. **And that man aelc beboden 
fsesten healde. st hit Ymbren-^esten. st hit Lengcten-faesten. st hit elles odher fsesten. 
mid ealre geomfiilnesse. and to Sanctam Mariam maessan selcere. and to aelces 
apostoles maessan feeste man. butan to Philippi and lacobi maessan we ne beddadh n^ 
feesten. for tham Easterlican fredlse. and aelces Frige-daeger feesten. buton hit fireols sy. 
And ne thearf man na fsesten fram Eastran odh Pentecosten. buton hwi gescrtfen sig. 
oththe he elles feesten wylle. And of middan-wintre odh octabas Epiphanie. that is 
seofen niht ofer twelftan maesse-daege." This last sentence forms one of the few conclusive 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



1 66 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

good of those laws which hold themselves out as written under Henry I. 
(1100-1135).^ 

At the end of the eleventh century the time of Christ's Nativity seems 

^ to have passed from a mere ecclesiastical and state celebration into popularity 
so (aif that it became general to keep it by feasting and banqueting. 
This is to be seen from the change of the attitude of the Church towards 
that festive tide. So far it had proclaimed it to be a joyous time, during 
which all fasting was suspended — ^not only regular Friday fasting, but also 
the stricter fasting for grave offenders, who had to do penance for a 
number of years. But by that time Nativity banqueting seems to have 

—become too gay, so that now the Church made attempts to check it 
This is evident from the so-called Laws of King Cnut, (1016-1028), which 
in reality, as before mentioned, were fabricated in England under 

proofe that, in the beginning of the twelfth centuiy, the term midwinter meant December 
25. /did., L, p. 370, Laws of Kif^ CmU\ "De Temporibus lustitiae." xvii. "And we 
forbe6dadh drdil and ddhar freols-dagum. and ymbren-dagum. and lengcten dagum. and 
riht fsesten dagum. and fram Adventum Domini [this term does not mean the Advent- 
tide, but December 25] odh se eahtodha d^ dg&n sig ofer twelftan msesse-daege. and 
firam Septuagesima odh xv. nihton ofer Eastron. And sancte Eadweardes msesse-dseg 
witan habbadh gecoren that man fredlsian sceal ofer call Engla-land on xv. kl. ApriL 
And Sancte DCinst^nes msesse-dseg on xiiii. kl. lunii. And beo tham h&Igum ttdum. 
eal swa hit riht is. eallum cristenum mannum sib and sdm gemsene. and sdc sacu 
tdtwsemed. And gyf hwd odhrum sceole borh oththe b6te. aet woruldlicum thingum. 
gelseste hit him geome. ser oththe ssfter." About the general observance of festival 
daysi compare Ibid,^ L, 402, xlv., xlvii. and xlviii. of the Laws of King Cnui firom 
the beginning of the twelfth century. 

* Thorpe's Ancient Laws, L, 562-63, Ixii. : "De Observatione temporis leges fiunendi. 
§ I. Ab Adventu Domini [«.^., December 25] usque ad Epiphaniae octabas, et a LXX. 
usque ad xv. dies post Pascha, et festis diebus, et quatuor temporum, et diebus 
Quadragesimalibus, et aliis legitimis jejuniis, et in diebus Veneris, ef vigiliis sanctorum 
Apostolorum, non est tempus leges fieu:iendi, idem vel jusjurandum pro Bdelitate domini, 
vel concordiam, vel bellum, vel fern, vel aquae, vel alias legis examinationes tractari ; 
sed sit in omnibus vera pax, beata caritas, ad honorem Omnipotentis Dei, cujus 
sapientia conditi sumus, nativitate provecti, a morte redempti, consolatione securi. §2. 
Et qui debitor est, ante persolvat vel indudet, donee dies isti transeant, gaudiis et 
honestis voluptatibus instituti. § 3. Et si quis malefi»:tum inter manus habens alicubi 
retinetur, ibi purgetur vel sordidetur. Si solum inculpatio sit, plegiis, si opus est, datis, 
ubi justum ftierit terminanda, revertatur." 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



NATIVITY, CHRISTES M^SS, AND CHRISTMAS 167 

Henry I. about a.d. iiio,^ and which ordain the time of strict peace, 
from midwinter to the octave of Epiphany, to be also a time of strict 
fasting.^ This, however, was so little carried through, that in the thirteenth 
century the Church itself was most seriously involved in gaieties, which 
were shifted from the Calends of January to a date dangerously near 
Christmas.' In thirteenth and fourteenth century stories, Christmas is 
presupposed as the time when everybody shows himself in his best dress, 
and whoever does not follow the fiashion in that respect is ridiculed.^ 
When the giving of presents at Christmas had become more general, 

^ Liebermann, On the InstUuta CnuH AHorumque Regum Anghrum^ pp. 83, 85; 
Thorpe's AttcUnt Laws, II., 521, Leges Regis CnuHi '*Haec sunt instituta Cnuti, regis 
Anglorum, Danoram, et Norwegarum, venerando sapientum ejus consilio, ad laudem Dei, 
et suam regalitatem, et commune commodum habita, in sancto Natali Domini, apud 
Wintoniam," etc 

'Thorpe, Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, London, 1840, Vol. I., p. 368, 
Ecclesiastical Laws of King Cnat, No. xvi: ''De Jeiuniis: And that man selc beboden festen 
healde . . . mid ealre geoinfulnesse. . . . And of middan-wintre odh octabas Epiphanie. 
that b seofen niht ofer twelftan maesse dsege." 

'Compare the note on p. 100. Ducange, Glossarium, under Kalendae, Concilium 
Copriniacense, A.D. 1260, c. ii. : "Rursus cum in balleatione, quae in festo S.S. Inno- 
centium in qnibusdam Ecclesiis fieri inolevit, multae rixae, contentiones, et turbationes, 
tam in divinis Ofiidis, quam aliis consueverunt provenire, praedictas balleationes alterius 
sub intimatione anathematis fieri prohibemus." He also refers to Statuia Joannis Archi- 
episcopi Cantuarensis^ a.d. 1279, and mentions from the Necrologium Ecclesiae Parisiensis, 
viL : '*Idus Januarii obiit Hugo Qemens Decanus noster et Sacerdos" [frater Henrici 
Qementis Frandae Marescalli]. "Procuravit etiam salubriter et devote, quod Festum 
B. Joannis Evangelistae post Nativitatem Domini, quod prius negligenter et joculariter 
agebatur, solenniter et devote celebraretur in Ecclesia nostra,'^ etc 

^"Rex quidam misit cuidam militi bacones, ut ipsos venderet et vestes contra festum 
Natale sibi compararet. Sed stultus miles in festo bacones a dextris et a sinistris drca se 
suspendit, et alii milites egregie induti apparentes, iUe cum baconibus apparuit vestitus. 
Cui cum requireretur, cui hoc fedsset, dixit quod talem induit qualem sibi misit dominus, 
nee illam voluit mutare '' (Thomas Wright, A Selection of Latin Stories, London, 1842, 
p. 112, No. cxxii. De Milite Stulto, firom the MS. Harleana, No. 3244, of the 
thirteenth or fourteenth century). So in the German epic of Meier Helmbrecht, v., 
1158-I160, the lines appear: 

" Daz hilfet mir daz ich sol tragen 
gewant ze wthnahten 
swie ich daz mac betrachlen." 









Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



i68 VULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Christmas fairs were instituted at various places,^ and family gatherings 
were held about the same time.^ 

In addition to the usages enumerated in former chapters which can 
be directly derived from Roman Calends-of-January customs, there now 
evolved a number of beliefs and habits, legends and usages, springing from a 
purely Christian soil, and showing how deep root Christianity had, in the 
course of time, taken in Germanic minds. The song Rorate Cocli had not 
been sung in vain for so many centuries.^ Founded upon it, the folk-belief 
had sprung up that at Christmas the heavens really gave a special and 
beneficial dew, which blessed everything that came in contact with it The 
Church added to this automatic benediction, which every year took place 
in commemoration of the birth of God, another more express one, 
which took the form of a benediction spoken by the priest from the altar. 
Out of this both Great Britain and Germany evolved popular customs.* 
According to Franz Wessel's description of the Roman Catholic service at 

^So in A.D. 1461, in Kempen, Rhine-country ; Town- Archive, Document No. 367, 
April 18, 1461, AnnaUn des historischm Vereins fur den Niederrheifiy Vol. LXV., p. 42. 
Archbishop Dietrich of Cologne allowed the town a fair of six dajrs at St. Jacob (July 25), 
and St. Thomas (December 21). Compare also Document No. 387 of March 10, 1465 ; 
St. Jacob is one of the da3rs which frequently divide the summer into two parts, previous 
to the introduction of the summer solstice of June 24. 

^Johannis de Fordun, ScoHchromcon cum SupplemenHs et ConHnualione WcUUri 
Bowerii Edinburgh, 1759, Vol. II., p. 59, Lib. IX., chap, xlviii., under the jrears 1231 to 
1233 : ** Patridus comes de Dumbar, aeger corpore, convocavit filios et filias, cognatos et 
vicinos, ut festa Dominicae nativitatis secum celebrarent. Peractis quatuor diebus vocat 
Adam abbatem de Melros, et ab eo extremam unctionem accepit ac habitum religionis, 
induit se monachum, et ultimum valedicens omnibus, diem clausit extremum.'* Bower 
having written in the first half of the fifteenth century, and there being no earlier evidence 
for this statement, the habit of celebrating Christmas in the fiunily circle cannot be set down 
as of the first half of the thirteenth century. 

'"Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant juslum" was sung on Wednesday after the 
third Advent, and later on the fourth Advent, Grotefend, Zeitrechnung des deutschen 
Mittelaltirs, I., 169. 

'Gervasius of Tilbury wrote about 1200 : " Apud antiquos Britanniae inolevit, quod in 
nocte natalis Domini ponunt manipulum avenae sub dio, aut vasculum aliquod plenum 
avenae vel hordei, ut, si fortassb, ut assolet evenire, pestb mortifera coeperit alia tangere, 
ex illo vel hordeo vel avena, super quam asserunt rorem coelestem nutu divino quotannis 
hora nativitatis Dei descendere." Liebrecht, Gtrv<isim von Tilbury ^ s. 2, chap. xii. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



NATIVITY, CHRISTES UMSS, AND CHRISTMAS 169 

Stralsund before the year 1523, a similar ceremony took place there, 
which was even named after Christ's birth. When a child was bom, its 
brothers and sisters used to receive little presents which were called "child's- 
footy" Kindsfuss. By that name also was called the gift which all the domestic 
animals got on the occasion of Christ's birth.^ That the same custom 
was still existing about the end of the sixteenth century is witnessed by 
Nicolaus Gryse's Spegel des antichristUchen Pawestdoms? 

When Charlemagne forbade^ drunkenness in general; the conjurations 
by St Stephan, himself, or his sons; and the participation in banquets 
of bishops and abbots, — this applied to the habit of men drinking on 
St. Stephan's day, as on other saints' days, to the memory of the 
samt of the day, a habit called later Stephanas minne^ Johannes minne, 
Marivis minne. In the same way they had, in pre-Christian times, 
drunk to the memory of their gods. To speak, however, on the basis of 
this passage, of SUpharis minnc as a special custom, as, e.g.^ Uhich Jahn 
does^^ is out of place — for such a custom cannot be proved to have 
existed before the second half of the sixteenth century, or 800 years after 
Charlemagne, and even then it appears not as a popular, but as a purely 

^ When the peasants there had £Eisted on Christmas eve till they saw the stars appear 
in the sky — ''so drogen se garuen in de koppele efte sus in de lucht, dadt se de windt, sne, 
rip dte sus de lucht beschinen konde. Dadt hetede men des morgens kindesvodt; dadt 
deelde men des morgen allem vth, schloch eine game t efte 3 vth vndt gaf den swinen, 
koyen, enten, gensen, dad se alle des kindesvothes geneten scholdenn." 

'Rostock, 1593, De /. Beal^ where we are told the following: "An S. Stefiens dage 
wyhet men nicht alleine dat water, sonderen ock den Hauer vnd allerley Kom, mit etlyken 
auergelouischen gebeden vnd afi^odischen Criitzslegen in, vnd sprickt, dat solckes an 
dissem dage ingesegendes kom, dem vehe krefilige stercke geue, mehr alse dat vngewyhede, 
vnd wenn ydt geseyet, sehr vele fmchte bringe, ock den Minschen de daman ethen, 
Lyues vnd der Seelen gesundtheit mitdele." Ulrich Jahn, Deutsche Opferffebrduche^ pp. 277, 
378, where a great number of cases are given in which that custom still survives. 

^ Acta Conciliorum, Parisib, 1714, Vol. IV., col. 846, Caroli Magni Regis CapUula 
alia^ X. ; Schannat, Concilia Gemtanica^ I., p. 286, chap, iii., anni 789: "Omnino pro- 
hibendum est omnibus ebrietatis malum : et istas conjurationes, quas faciunt per sanctum 
Stephanum, aut per nos, aut per filios nostros, prohibemus; et praedpimus ut episcopi 
vel abbates non vadant per casam miscendo." 

^In his book, DiedetUschen Opfergebrdtuhe bei Ackerbau und Viehtucht^ Breslau, 1884, 
P 273. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



tyo 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



ecclesiastical custom.^ So it is with Johannes minne^ which was drunk to 
the memory of John the Evangelist on December 25. From the fifteenth 
century onwards, the Church, in its commemoration of the legend that John 
the Apostle destroyed the poison contained in a cup by making the sign 
of the cross over it, adopted that custom by the repetition of that bene- 
diction as part of the service. The blessed cup was regarded by the people 
as a means useful for all kinds of things, and wine blessed at that opportunity 
enjoyed a great reputation.^ Johannes Hebe and Johannis trunk appear for it.* 
In the marvellous night on which the Saviour was born, the most extra- 
ordinary things happened, according to the Christian l^end. The animals 
rejoiced in the salvation that was bestowed on the world, in the rivers 
there ran wine instead of water, and the trees in the forest began to bud 
and bloom all in one night in spite of the ice and snow by which the 
fields were covered. Ecclesiastical fancy had played with these things for 
some time, eloquent preachers had with them adorned, and lent impressive- 
ness to, their sermons, so that at last it became a popular belief that every 
year, at the hour when Christ was bom, the same miracles happened again.^ 



^Fischart, Bienenkorb^ I., chap, ii., p. 63 : **Zu Freuburg in Preiszgau bey den 
Johanniten an einem silbernen Kettlin ein Stein, darmit S. Stephan gesteiniget ward: 
denselben legt man jahrlich an S. Stephanstag in einen Kelch, geusst Wein dariiber, gibt 
dem opferenden Volck darab zu trincken, das heisst fUr S. Johanns-Segen S. Stephans- 
wein, soil fUr die Baermutter gut seyn." 

* A large part of the more important literature for this item is quoted by Ulrich Jahn, 
Die deutschen Opfergebrduche ^ei Ackerbau und ViehzucJU^ Breslau, 1844, P* 269 ss. : " Seb. 
Franck, 1567; Thomas Naogeorgus, 1553; Burckhardt Waldis; Strigenitius ; Nicolaus 
Gryse, 1593; Matthesius; Petrus Mosellanus; Fibiger, 1675." 

^ Stddtechroniken^ X., 375; III., 149; XI., 673. Rarely is it transferred to June 24. 
Wiener Sitzungsberichie^ XL., 180; Grotefend, Zeitrechntmg^ !•> 99» Spiess, ArchwaUsche 
Nebetmrbeitetty mentions a foundation from the year 1484: ''Daz man davon alle jar 
schike und bestell wein doselbst zum goczhausz an sandt Johannstag zu we3machten so man 
dem volck pfligt ausz dem kelch sandt Johanns mynn zu geben;" Grotefend, Ibid.^ I., 
100; Birlinger, Aus Sckwaben, II., 158, and II., 122. 

* A fine example for the evolution of a Christmas legend into a popular belief is con- 
tained in Die Pilgerfahrt des RUttrs Arnold von ffarff, ed. by Dr. G. v. Groote, Koln, 
i860 (a description of a journey to the Orient, a.d. 1496-99), p. 26, where a church at 
Rome is mentioned: ''Item beneven deser kirchen is ein pallais zo broecken den der 
ke3rser Octavianus lies bouwen. lie vragde die a%oede ind de bouwelude wie lange 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



NATIVITY, CHRISTES M^SS, AND CHRISTMAS 171 

An Arabian geographer of the tenth century^ is the first to tell the story 
that, in the night between December 24 and 25, the trees of the forest 
actually stand' in full blossom, and this belief is carried through Spain and 
France to Germany and Great Britain.* On German ground it appears 
first in a saint's life, the life of St Hadwigis, who was born about 11 80 
in Franken. The story tells of her: "Once, when she was young, on 
Christmas day somebody entered the room, saying, while she was sitting on 
the table, that a cherry tree in the garden stood in full blossom. She, on 
hearing this, sent him back in order to see whether the buds sprang firom 
the lower or fi-om the upper part of the tree. He went, and on his return 
reported that the tree blossomed at its lower branches. But she said: 
'That is a sign of the coming mortality. Many poor will die this year.' 
And as she foretold, so it happened."^ 

der pallais waell stayn moechte. Do spraich ein stimme van dem hemeU, he seulde stain 
also lange bis dat ein maget in junferlicher reinicheit ein kint geberet. Doe spraich der 
keiser Octavianus : soe wirt he ewich stain, want sulch is neit moegelich. Darumb lies er 
in des tempels muire hauwen: Templum etemitaiis^ ein tempel der ewicheit. Doe nu 
Cristus unser herre van Maria der reiner maget geboren waert, doe veil des tempels vil dar 
neder ind noch all jairs zo cristmissen veldt ein stuck der muyren van dem tempel." 

* Georg Jacob, Studien in arabischen Gtographetty Heft I., 5, pp. 8, 9, and Heft IV., 5, 
pp. 171, 172. 

' Christ Himself as a child sitting on a tree covered all over with candles appears in 
the Old French epic, "Durmars le galois," of the thirteenth century, 151, 2 ss. ; 155, 
60 ss. ; 158, 17 ss. (Alwin Schulz, Das hofische Leben zur Zeit der Minnesinger^ Leipzig, 
1889, !•• P« 364; Simrock, Handbuch der detUschen Mythologie, 5th ed., Bonn, 1878, 
p. 572 : " Durmars sees a tree whose branches are covered from top to bottom with lit 
candles, of which some stand properly and some upside down. But still more shining 
than these, a resplendent child is sitting on the top. Terrified and wondering what this 
means, Durmars asks the Pope, and receives the answer : * The lit tree is humanity, the 
upright lights are the good men, the reversed lights the bad men, the child is the 
Saviour.*" 

'Aufeess und Mone, Anzeiger fur Kunde des deutschen MittelalterSy III., NUmberg, 
1834, col. 10, probably of the thirteenth century: ''Quoniam eo tempore, dum adhuc 
iuvenis esset, in die natalis domini venit qui diceret coram ea sedente in mensa, quod arbor 
una cerasus stans in horto recentibus esset floribus decorata. Quod audiens misit ad con- 
siderandimi, si praedicti flores in inferiori aut in superiori parte arboris pulularent. Qui 
missus fiierat, renunciavit arborem in ramis inferioribus florescentem. At ilia, signum est, 
inquit, mortalitatis fiiturae. Multi enim pauperes morientur isto anno. £t sic, ul prae- 
dixerat omnino evenit." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



172 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

This is a legend. But a century later we find the same thing as a 
belief purposely furthered by the Church.^ A bishop tells, in a letter 
to a friend, of two apple trees which on Christmas night blossomed and 
ripened. A nobleman testifies to the truth of the affair, describing the 
colour of the apples, and stating that he had held them in his own hands. 
About 1430 the same story is told of the neighbourhood of Niimberg,^ 
by a theologian, Johannes Nider. He reports : " Not far from NUmberg 
there stood a miraculous tree. . . . Every year in the wildest and most 
disagreeable time of the year, invariably and only on the night of Christ's 
birth, when the Virgin of Virgins . . . gave birth to the son of God, 
it bore blooming apples the size of a thumb. . . . Therefore every 
year, trustworthy people go there from Niimberg and the neighbouring 
regions and keep watch all night at that place to test the truth of the 
thing. A tree similar to this one in every respect is found in the 
diocese of Bamberg." From the beginning of the fifteenth century, the 
belief spread over all Germany, being attested again and again in various 
popular books and chronicles of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth 
centuries, so that it became one of the most popular parts of the 
German Christmas creed of modem times.^ In England the story 
appears somewhat later, but has got a peculiar form. Legend tells that 
after Christ's death Joseph of Arimathea came to England and settled 
at Glastonbury. There he was, therefore, specially revered, there his grave 
was said to be, and there in the crypt his coffin was shown. Although 
the legend bears the stamp of learned origin, and was perhaps invented 
by William of Malmesbury, yet from the beginning of the twelfth century 



^ Letter of the Bishop of Bamberg to Nicolaus von Dinkelsbiihl of January 16, 
1426, in the Court Library of Vienna, No. 4899, fol. 312 ; von Perger, Dtutsche 
PfloHMemagm^ Stuttgart und Oehringen, 1864, p. 57. 

• F. A. Reuss, KUine Beitrtuge in the JcJiresberickt fiir den historischtn Verdn 
fur Mittelfranken^ 1859, p. 95. 

'An extensive sketch of the further development of that belief is found in my 
Geschkhte der deutschm Weihnacht^ Leipzig, 1893, PP» ^^^'^SS^ chap- ^"-i ^^ blUhenden 
Baume der Weihnacht, 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



NATIVITY, CHRISTES MMSS, AND CHRISTMAS 173 

Joseph was regarded in England as a kind of national saint^ He was 
said to have brought with him his walking-stick, which he planted in the 
ground of his new home. Like Aaron's rod, or like Tanhiiser's staff in the 
thirteenth century legend (from a mixture with which the story of Joseph 
of Arimathea has arisen), it put forth leaves ; further it took to the habit 
of blossoming every year on the eve of Christ's Nativity. Whilst in reality 
the thorn from which the staff was cut, the Crata^s praecoXy blossoms 
in November when the weather is mild, the Christian legend connects 
it firmly with the night of Christ's birth. An old report on it* gives the 
following account: ''Mr. Anthony Hinton, one of the officers of the Earle 
of Pembroke, did inoculate, not long before the late civill warres (ten 
yeares or more), a bud of Glastonbury Thome, on a thome, at his form 
house, at Wilton, which blossoms at Christmas, as the other did. My 
mother has had branches of them for a flower-pott, several Christmasses, 
which I have seen. Elias Ashmole, Esq., in his notes upon Theatrum 
Chymicum, saies that in the churchyard of Glastonbury grew a walnutt 
tree that did putt out young leaves at Christmas, as doth the King's 
Oak in the New Forest In Parham Park, in Suffolk (Mr. Boutele's), 
is a pretty ancient thome, that blossomes like that at Glastonbury; the 
people flock hither to see it on Christmas Day. But in the rode that 
leades from Worcester to Droitwiche is a black thome hedge at Clayes, 
half a mile long or more, that blossoms about Christmas-day, for a 
week or more together. Dr. Ezerel Tong sayd that about Rumly-Marsh, in 
Kent, are thomes naturally like that near Glastonbury. The Soldiers 
did cutt downe that near Glastonbury; the stump remaines."-' When, in 
1752, September 2 was by law turned into September 14, Christmas 
was held twelve days earlier than the year before. This afforded a good 
opportunity of watching the qualities of these legendary thorns, and 
this was made use of at various places. Records of it are preserved in 

^ The Legend of Joseph of Arimathea (709 verses) has been edited by Prof. W. W. 
Skeat ; and by Frederick Fumivall, 1862, for the Roxburgh Club. 
* Aubrey, Natural History of Wiltshire. 
'Ashton, A Ri^hte Merrie Christmasses pp. 105-106, 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



174 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



the Historical Chronicle (for January) of the GmtUmaiis Magazine for 
1 7S3> which contains a striking report, dated : •* Quainton in Buckinghamshire^ 
December 24. Above 2000 people came here this night, with lanthoms 
and candles, to view a black thorn which grows in the neighbourhood, 
and which was remembered (this year only) to be a slip from the famous 
Glastonbury Thome, that it always budded on the 24th, was full blown 
the next day, and went all off at night; but the people, finding no 
appearance of a bud, 'twas agreed by all, that December 25, N.S., 
could not be the right Christmas Day^ and, accor4ingly, refused going 
to Church and treating their friends on that day, as usual: at length 
the affair became so serious that the ministers of the neighbouring villages, in 
order to appease the people, thought it prudent to give notice that the 
old Christmas Day should be kept holy as before. 

" Glastonbury, A vast concourse of people attended the noted thorns 

on Christmas Eve, New Stile ; but, to their great disappointment, there was 

no appearance of its blowing, which made them watch it narrowly the 

Sth of Jan., the Christmas day^ Old Style, when it bloVd as usual." 

From Roman times the adorning of the houses with laurel and green 

^ trees at the Calends of January had been known to the Germanics; and 
when Christmas finally took the place of the Roman beginning of the 

V year, the usage, like so many others, was transferred to that date. Beside 
the conifers, laurel and evergreen, bay and box, holly and mistletoe were 
used for that purpose.^ Then the legend of the blossoming trees of the 
Christmas night reached the Germanics, and before long turned into a 
popular belief, which ascribed that wonder to every night between December 
24 and December 25. Out of the union of these two elements the usage 

, of the Christmas tree seems to have sprung, which, fully developed, appears 
for the first time in j6ai at Strassburg, the same town in which the 
adorning of. houses with fir branches at New Year is witnessed at the end 
of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries.^ Fir trees 

* Compare pp. 103 to 106. 

^Memorabilia quaedam Argentorati ohservaia, which I edited in the Jahrbuch fUr 
Geschichte^ Sprache und Liieratur Ehass-lMhringenSy VI., 1890, p. 62, ss. : "Auft 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



NATIVITY, CHRISTES M.«:SS, AND CHRISTMAS 175 

were put up in the rooms, adorned with roses cut out of many-coloured 
papers, apples, leaf-gold, sweets, etc., and fixed in a rectangular frame.^ 
These tises, with their artificial flowers and fruits, remind the reader too 
clearly ofThe legendary blossoming and fruit-bearing apple trees of Christmas 
eve to admit of the connection with them being overlooked. And even 
the direct link between the two is supplied by popular custom. 

Whilst, on the one hand, evergreens were applied, and by preference 
such as bore fruits of a colour different from that of the leaves, like holly 
with its red berries, and mistletoe with its white ones ; on the other hand, 
since the sixteenth century at least, boughs of cherry trees and hawthorn 
were, a fortnight before New Year, put into water in a warm place, so that 
they had a chance to bud and bloom at New Year, or later on at Christmas. 
The blossoms were used as an oracle. Were they numerous and beautiful 
they meant luck; were they scarce and crippled, or not apparent at all, 
they were considered unlucky. In all probability something similar was 
done with the green trees at the Roman Calends of January. Nay, this was 
the natural consequence, when cherry trees, hawthorn, or similar early-blooming 
bushes were put into water in order to be kept fresh for some time. The 
blossom oracle looks very much like the Roman cake oracle with the Strenae ; 
and had not special heathen ideas and practices been connected with them, 
the Church would scarcely have taken the trouble to forbid their application 
to festive purposes. A Salzburg regulation about forests, of 1755, forbids 
the taking from the forests of Bdchlboschm or Weihnachisboschen^ />., bushes — 
not trees — so that the custom of putting up bushes at Christmas must 
then have prevailed.^ In an etching by Joseph Kellner, Das Christbescherens 
Oder der frbhliche Morgen^ which, according to the costumes, has to be 
dated about 1790, the presentation of Christmas gifts is shown. In the 



Weihenachten richtett man Dannenl^um zu Strasburg in den Stuben aufif, daran hencket 
man rossen auss vielfarbigem papier geschnitten, Aepfel, Zischgolt, Zucker, etc. Man 
pflegt darum ein viereckent ramen zu machen.'' 

^ The further evolution and spreading of the Christmas tree is elaborately treated in my 
book, Du Gesckickte der deutschm Weihnacht^ chap, ix., pp. 256-278, and pp. 351-355. 

*Schmeller, Bayrisches IVorterbuch^ I., p. 271. The probable etymological connection 
between ** Bdchlhoschtn^* and the **baculus episcopalis" was pointed out on pp. 100 and no. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



176 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

coma* of the room stands a fresh green tree in foliage, which bears three 
lit candles and other adornments,^ and the autobiography of the painter, 
Albrecht Adam, who was bom in 1786 at Nordlingen, tells that, in his 
youth at Nordlingen, not the dark fir tree was in use at Christmas eve, 
but months before Christmas, a cherry or agriot tree was put into a big 
pot in the comer of the room, so that at Christmas it stood in full bloom 
and extended along the ceiling. That was regarded as a great ornament, 
and indeed added much to the festive joy. One family competed with 
the other to have the finest tree, and the members of that house which 
had the most beautifiil were very proud.^ The same was done as late 
as 1858 with cherry boughs, elder boughs, and lime boughs, near Coburg.' 
So there is no doubt the modem Christmas tree is simply an artificial 
substitute for these trees and bushes in bloom. 

The Roman Calends-of-January customs had in themselves not the 
I power of transforming Germanic usage and belief. But inspired with a 
new life by the Christian religion and its legendary apparatus, they produced 
after the fourteenth century quite a new world of popular tradition, which 
has all too long been regarded as a relic of purely Germanic antiquity, but 
which we now, on the basis of historical evidence, are entitled to claim 
as a great product of the popularisation of the religion of the cross 
among the Christian Germanic nations. 



* My Gtschichte der dmtschm IVeihnachi, pp. 248-9. 

^Albrecht Adam's Selbstbiographie^ herausgegeben von Holland, p. 23. 

•A. Schleicher, VolkstUmliches aus Sonneberg^ Weimar, 1858, pp. 91, 92. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER XIII. 
THE SCANDINAVIAN YEAR. 

While there is a continuous stream of literary tradition between the 
Roman and the Germanic periods in the west of Europe, and while 
we, by the medium of historical documents, can show not only how 
political power passed over from the Romans to the Germanics in Gaul, 
Germany, and Britain, but also how Roman civilisation and culture, 
Roman habits and customs, Roman writing and learning, the Roman year, 
and the Roman week, Roman months, and the names of Roman week- 
days were gradually accepted by, and popularised among, the Western 
Germanics — there exist no such connective literary links between the 
Roman and the Scandinavian worlds. There we have no early records at 
all that might compare with our Latin sources from the first to the eighth 
century, dealing with Roman and Western Germanic relations. We have 
no literary documents in the Scandinavian dialects of the eighth, ninth, 
tenth, and eleventh centuries which could stand by the side of our oldest 
Old-High-German, Old Saxon, and Anglo-Saxon poetry. Even the history 
of the texts which were written down in Iceland, after the introduction 
about A.D. 1 1 50 of Roman characters, is in part very uncertain, very 
few fragments having come down to us written before the year 1250 — a 
time when for many centiuies Western civilisation had been influencing 
Scandinavian tribes at home, a great number of Eastern stories and fairy- 
tales had been conmiunicated to them, and the Viking voyages of large 
numbers of North-Eastern Germanics had on the coasts of Germany, 
Britain, Gaul, Spain, Italy, and Asia Minor brought these men into 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



178 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

close contact and eye to eye with the whole world of Roman, Romance, 
and even partly of Greek and Eastern civilisation. Yet we possess, from 
the pen of a Greek, one sixth century report on a Scandinavian festival, 
though on one which, under all circumstances, must have been partial 
only. When in the sixth century the inhabitants of northern Scandinavia 
had been thirty-five days without sunlight, they used to send messengers 
to the siunmits of the highest mountains to look out whether now the 
sun would soon return. When he had been seen, it was announced 
everywhere that in five days the light would reach the ground of the 
valleys. Then a great rejoicing arose, and the highest festival of the year 
was celebrated. For although the same event took place every year, the 
inhabitants of the Norwegian islands were perhaps afraid it might happen 
that the sun would not return.^ In the sixth century, the day of the 

^Procopius, Bellum Cothicumf II., 15: Me^ oOt 8^ Aarwr rd iOwri waptdpeLfum 06 
Piai^o/Uy(ay ff^s tQp rjS€ papfidpuw, ivBMt is (6«eeu'dr d^6tuP0i ipavrlXKorro, BcCXig 
re r/HNTX^yref rj n^y ai^oD f/iMtwaw, Icrri di if Ool^i; fuyUrTfi it dyoM. BperraWat yiip 
aMiP wXiw 1j d€Kaw\afflap ^vfipahfei drat, ireritu 9i a^!r^ roXXjy dwoBew irpdt poppSj^ 
At^efiof. iv rai^rg rj r/tcifi 7^ fUp ipffffios ix roO iwl irXeurror rtryx^^* o9<ra, iw X<^ ^ 
r{ olKUVfUrjt TpuucaldeKa ($tni voKveufOfxar&raTa ISfwrai' paaiKeU ri elai Karii (0PO9 fKOffnm, 
irraGBa yiwem drd ray trot $av/idffum» 6 yiifi ffXcof d/i^l Ofpufhn flip rpvrh.'S ftdXirra 
it ii/Upas TWffapdKorra oddafiii diVi, dXXd dirireKOt is vdrra toDtw rdr Xfi^^ ^"^P Y^* 
^aiwcTtu, fjeifffl di 0^ Ijffffw 1j f( Ihrepoif dfi^ rhs x^^f^P^^f rpords ffXiof fUr is ^iiipas 
re<r(rapd«rorra r^ rfyrov rai^n/t o^dd/u^ ^ttUwenUf rd( di air^ dwipeurros Karaxixynu' tcar^ 
0eid re dT* «}roD ^ei xdrra roHrw rhv XP^*^^ '''f^^ "^i^^ dwBpdnrovs, iwel dXXi^Xocf iri/dyvvaOat 
ftera^^ odde/uf tnfxiufi fyovaip, ifuA fUp o9r is rtt&npr Uptu r^ rifffw r(ap re elpitifidwvp 
oir&rro yt^iffBtu, Kolwep yktxoftivtpf rp&inp o^pI ^vprjpix'^' rCip /Urroi is ii/ias ipQMt 
d^ofiiptop hrvpBwfbiJaiP (hnf wvri dtol re * * djflffX'fpros ctrt 56opros rocs Ka0^ovai XP^^^' 
ipraOda ifKUiu, ctwep iiui X^yor dXi;^ re itaX wiffrbf #^pa<rar. rbp ydp Ijjktdp ^an reaaapA' 
Korra iiiidpOM ixelpas 06 ddetr /i^, &air€p ef/np-ot, ^>Qs 9i rois ra^ dpOptivoa ^aip€ff$ai 
nil pip xpd9 Hu, w^ 9i wp69 i<nripap, ireiddp o9r erapiCfP aJMis dfi^ rbp ^^orrd re 
fiphpjtPdis it rhp airrbp d^bafTOi x^lapw^ o^€p airrbv dr^orra rd trpOra itiptop, Wp<^ 
offrw Kid p^a fdop xaptpxiiKipeu dtapiBfAoOprm* koI ipfUca fUpToi 6 tQp pvktQp xP^'^^ 
d^UxiiTai, rijt ye d-eXi^t r^ 9pSiff$mi del rois 9p6/Mis rtitpaiipuiipxpoi rh tQp iffUpup Xoyftomu 
fiirpop, bvtgpUca 6i trim koX r^uUorra if/iepQp XP^^ ^ fU'^pi ra&rff ikadpd/JMi pvktI, 
ffriXKoPTtU TtP€S is rCtP dpiop rdt MrepfSoXdt, tlBurpipop airrois roOr6 ye, r6r re ^ i^Kiop 
duriyimi ip$4p9€ 6pQpT€s diraYy(\Kouai rcis xdrw dySptbwois, &n 9ii tthrt iuupQ/p ^Xiof 
ainoi>s KaTakifi\l/oi, ol 9i wopiii/iel wopiipupli^ovetP e^yyiXia koI raOra ip ffK&np, affn/ 
re OcvXtrais ii luyltmi tQp ioprQp ivTi. 8oKoO<ri ydp pm. wepideeU del ylpwOai o< pii^iimu 
o^roc, Kaltrtp rairrb ^vpficupw atplffiw drd wdp h-oSf pl^i rore a^oi>f itriXilToi rh wapdwop 6 fjXiot. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE SCANDINAVIAN YEAR 



179 



winter solstice was the 19th of December, and towards the end of it, 
the 1 8th of that month. A period of forty days of the sun remaining 
below the horizon would, therefore, have extended from November 29 
till January 8. The festival at the end of it was accordingly the earlier, 
the more southerly people lived, and the later, the more northerly. That 
in a region of such northerly expanse such a custom should evolve is 
almost as natural as it is impossible that it should arise in a region in 
which the sun never stays for forty-eight hours below the horizon. Therefore 
it can scarcely be said to contribute anything to our general knowledge 
of the Germanic division of the year, and we have rather to regard it as 
a singular curiosity than as a fact connected by the link of tradition 
with the common stock of Germanic lore, which was at one time believed 
to be purest among the Northern Germanics. But probably it was 
only the peculiar charm and genuineness of the marvellously clear and 
beautiful prose attained by the inhabitants of Iceland in the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries, that explained why the literature of the North- 
Eastem Germanics, from its first becoming known to wider circles, 
especially in Denmark and Germany, was regarded by so many scholars 
as the true and genuine expression of ancient Germanicism. There was 
a time, and it is not so very distant, when the products of late 
Norwegian and Icelandic poetic fiction which we are wont to call by the 
name of the Older Edda (although that collection of songs is not an 
outline of the art of composing poetry as is the Edda of Snorri Sturluson) 
were thought to be the stock of poetry which originally had been common 
to all Germanic nations, and, therefore, had to be taken as the basis 
of Germanic mythology. No serious scholar will now-a-days maintain 
this any longer, though in minor questions some minds have by no 
means been freed from that prejudice. So Professor Karl Weinhold still 
prefers to base his conceptions of the Germanic year of ancient times 
on a singular statement made by Snorri Sturluson in the first half of 
the thirteenth century in Iceland, instead of taking as his basis for such 
a reconstruction of the ancient conceptions on the course of the year, 
the huge pile of solidly warranted historical facts that can be gathered 
from contemporaneous and principally Latin sources, from the first to 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



,8o YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

the tenth century in Gaul, Germany, and Britain. He makes his task 
very easy of fulfilment, by declaring that the report given by Snorri 
Sturluson in chapter viil of the Ynglingasaga^ to the effect that the Northern 
Germanics about the middle of January made great offerings to their 
gods for fertility^ guarantees this as a genuine and ancient heathen custom 
— the very proposition which has to be proved.^ He fails, however, to 
state in what he thinks the guarantee to consist Three times over he has 
elaborately dealt with the problems connected with the Germanic year — 
in his pamphlets on the German division of the year, and on the German 
names of months, and in a chapter of his Old North Life?' Whilst the 
first of these writings rests on the assumption tliat the Germanics divided 
their year according to solstices and equinoxes (of which the early 
Germanic tribes in reality knew so little that they had not even words 
for them), the second starts from the few comparatively early attempts to 
use the same German names of months over a larger territory, and tries 
to show in what measure they were successful, instead of ascertaining first 
of all, the early popular tradition about months and their names among 
the various German tribes, and showing then how it determined the action 
of those early reformers of calendar-denominations. In it he arrives at 
the conclusion that the ancient Germanics had had — ^by pure chance — 
the very same division of the year as that reached by the Romans 
through a long course of historical evolution, with the solitary distinction 
that the Germanics began their year a quarter of a year earlier than the 
Romans, viz., on October i instead of January i. 

In his book on old Scandinavian life,^ Professor Weinhold has tried 

^ Zeitschrift des Vereines fur Volkskunde, 1894, Heft I., p. 100: "Die Nordgennanen 
brachten su dieser Zeit (Weinhold confuses here the winter solstice with the middle of 
January, on which the offerings previously to the time about 940 were made, according 
to Heimskringlay Story of Hakon the Goody chap, xv., Morris and Magnusson's 
Tyanslatum, VoL I., p. 163) die grossen Opfer til gr6dhrar, d. i. fUr die Fruchtbarkeit 
{^YngUngasaga, c. viii.), eine Angabe, die, wenn auch erst im 13. Jahrhundert von einem 
Christen gemacht, dennoch Echt und Altheidnisches verbUrgt." 

* Karl Weinhold, Uber die detUsche fahrteilungy Kiel, 1862 ; Die detUschen Monat- 
namerty Halle, 1869, and Altnordisches Lebetiy Berlin, 1856, pp. 371-383- 

^ AUnordisches Leben, Berlin, 1856, pp. 37I-383- 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE SCANDINAVIAN YEAR i8i 

to give a theory of the ancient northern year. It is true he has learnt 
from Ideler^ that the Runic almanacs of Scandinavia are, rather than of 
Germanic, of Roman and Christian origin ; but he has failed to apply this 
knowledge to the divisions of time in use among Scandinavians, and 
identical with the institutions of the almanac of old Rome. He thinks it 
even probable that the Germanics, without foreign influence, hit upon the 
week of seven days,^ although it is an established fact that that Phoenician 
week came to the Germanic tribes through the Romans, as is clearly shown 
by the names of the week-days, which exactly correspond to the Roman 
names. Grimm assigns to the fourth or fifth century a.d» the introduction of 
the Roman week among the Germanics, but I should rather be inclined to 
assign it to the first century before or after Christ's birth. Professor Wein- 
hold's statements in that book can scarcely be taken seriously any longer. 
It is true that the Germanics of Caesar's time observed the new moon, the 
full moon, and so on ; but it is not true that either Caesar* or Tacitus^ says 
that decisive divisions of religious life were based upon them.^ Weinhold 
infers from that supposition that in Caesar's time periods of fourteen days or 
of twenty-eight days must have existed, and he declares these periods of 
twenty-eight days to be identical with months of thirty days.* In one 
place ^ he says that Germanic heathendom is based on things very different 
from the observation of stars, and in another place ^ he ascribes to the 
heathen Germanics a whole "art" of astronomy, of which before their 
contact with Roman civilisation they apparently knew next to nothing. 
He speaks of a ''popular astronomy" of the ancient Scandinavians,^ though 
he adds that nothing is known of it He further states that this astronomy 
(of which, according to himself, we know nothing) was at first confined 
to images and likenesses, and yet produced bye and bye observations at 
large, and chiefly the division of time.^^ He further maintains that the 
first thing the Germanics did was to fix *' exactly "^^ the four regions of 

* Uber das Alter der Runenkalender^ Abhandlungen der Berliner Akademie der Wissen- 
schaften, Philologisch-Historische Klasse, 1829- 1832, pp. 49-66. 

'P. 373. * BeUum Gallicum^ VI., xviii. ^ Germa$tia^ chap. xL 

• P. 374. • P. 375- ' P 383- • Pp. 371-372. 

• P. 372. w P. 372. " P. 372. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



i82 VULE AND CHRISTMAS 

the sky, and that the division of the day was based upon it, whilst in 
reality this is one of the latest things we find among them, and was certainly 
not arrived at without Roman influence. 

There is no doubt that, among the Scandinavians, there existed a 
division of the year into two parts. As has been shown already, etymology 
proves this conclusively.^ The names of winter and summer are common 
Germanic expressions, doubtless much older than any definite denomi- 
nation such as spring and autumn, in regard to which Germanic tongues 
are much at variance with each other. As little true is it that the fourfold 
partition of the year never took root in Scandinavia,^ an assertion which 
is not reconcilable with his other affirmation (in 1894) that the Germanic 
year was based on solstices and equinoxes. This statement, if it implies 
anything, implies a fourfold partition of the year. In reality that partition 
took root, though somewhat late. The very fact that the three later months 
of winter were given a common name, iltm&nadirf mentioned by Professor 
Weinhold himself,^ proves that in the thirteenth century people had learnt 
to count the year in quarters. If he goes on to declare that a tri-partition 
of the year never took root in Scandinavia either, he is as much at discord 
with himself as before. He admits that the Norw^ian summer of six 
months is divided into three three-score-day tides — Vaarmoaner^ Sumarmoaner, 
and Haustmoaner — a fact which, by its very existence, suggests a combination 
of two such periods into a long hundred of days. This suggestion has 
not failed to present itself to his mind, as four lines further down he 
makes the observation that 360 da3rs are just three long hundreds. He 
maintains that the phases of the moon played a part in the religious life 
of the ancient Germanics (for which there is no evidence), and yet does 
not overlook the fact that the Scandinavians celebrated three great annual 
festivals. But he tries to explain that fact away. I quite agree with 
Professor Weinhold that the Germanic year began with the beginning of 
winter, and that the Scandinavian year of olden times began between 
October 9 and 14, and that consequently,^ according to the dual division 

^ Compare pp. 5 and 6 of the present book. ^ P. 375. ' Vtgastyrs saga, chap. iiL ^ P. 378. 
> Weinhold, AltnordiscKes Lebm^ p. 376; Deutsche Monatnamen^ p. 22; Edda 
Sasmuftdar, ed. Finn Magnussen, Havniae, 1828, III., 1013, 1015. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



THE SCANDINAVIAN YEAR 183 

of the year, which in historical times came again ever more strongly into 
the foreground, summer began between April 9 and 14. But when he goes 
on to say that (while on the preceding page he had maintained that the 
quartering of the year never took root in Scandinavia) these two seasons 
of about 180 days each, were halved by solstices in midwinter and mid- 
summer, putting the winter solstice on January 14 and the summer solstice 
on July 14, and calling January 14 Jbl\ when he maintains that these 
incisive days were strongly accentuated by religious festivals, and were the 
principal religious^ points in the course of the year; when he states that 
the Northern year was based entirely on the course of nature, whilst 
before^ he had stated that it was based on astronomic observations, — he 
leaves entirely the basis of fact, and jumps into a world of unjustifiable 
speculation. And he quite fails to establish his theory that the Scandinavians 
knew of a division of the year into twelve months before they came into 
contact with the world of Roman civilisation. Nobody is able to point 
out twelve names of months which can, with any probability, be assumed 
to have been those of the twelve alleged Germanic months. In truth, 
even the later Scandinavians have not twelve names which, in a proper 
sense, could be called month-names, for sddhfidhy sowing-time (March); 
eggtldh^ egg-time (April) ; heyannir^ heyant^ the first part of which is " hay^'^ 
are not month-names. According to Professor Weinhold's own list of 
Scandinavian month-names,^ we have the following denominations of the 
Roman months: 

Octoberi gorm&nudhr^ called thus after gor^ excrtmenta intestinarum^ 
from the cleaning of the intestines of killed cattle (?);^ New Icelandic 
ylir^ after the howling of the storm (?) ; Danish, according to the milder 
climate of Denmark, which allows work on the field so late in the year, 
Sddemaanedf month of sowing, formerly, besides Ridemaaned, after the 
rutting time of stags. (Not of swine ?) 

November : frermdnudhry month of frost ; New Northern, winter-month. 

December', hn^tmdnudhr^ month of rams(?); Modem Northic, 'Jul-* 
month ; New Icelandic mSrsugr^ sucker or eater of bacon. 

^ On p. 372. ^ Pp. 376-378. 'The interrogation and exclamation marks are mine. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



l84 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

yanuary : Thorri \ Norw^an Torre, Swedish 7%<vw— unexplained 
name. 

February : G^\ Norwegian Gjd^ Swedish Gbja, Danbh C?^i^— unex- 
plained name. 

March : s&dhtldhy sowing-time (!) ; einm&nudhr, important month (?) ; 
New Icelandic, Odin's month; Swedish Tormaaned, Thurrmaaned, month 
with dry weather (?) ; Norwegian Krikla or iTtrm^— unexplained. 

April : eggitdh, time of eggs ; sieckfidh, from putting up the hurdles for 
lambs ; Danish Faaremaaned^ month of lambs ; New Icelandic, month of 
the cuckoo or harpa — unexplained; Swedish varant^ spring. 

May : sdlmdnudhr^ sun-month ; New Icelandic eggfUL 

yufie \ selm&nudhr, from sel, arbour; Swedish, midsummer; Danish, 
summer-month, and Skdrsomar, after the fleecing of the sheep. 

yuly : heyannir, hoant, hay-month ; Danish Ormemaaned^ worm-month ; 
New Icelandic sehn&nudhr. 

August : komkurdhamidnudhri month of reaping; Swedish skorde- 
maaned or skbrtant, the same ; Danish Homaanedy hay-month, and 
Hostmaaned, harvest-month. The New Icelandic name ixAmdnudhr, 
double-month, cannot, as Grimm supposed and Professor Weinhold holds, be 
explained by the fact " that August in many places shared its name with a 
neighbour month " (which feature August has in common with almost every 
other month of the year),^ but is of the same origin as Anglo-Saxon ThriHdu 
Its duplicate served as an intercalary month, or, in other words, August 
was the month that was doubled in Scandinavia in the leap years under 
the reign of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. 

September : haustniAnudhr, harvest-month ; Danish Fiskemaaned^ fish- 
month. 

Nobody will regard this conglomerate of mutually inconsistent and 
even contradictory names as having sprung from one root, and being 
genuinely Germanic. Most of the names are very vague attempts to give 
native names to the new periods of about thirty days taken over from the 
Romans. Even the Germanic denominations of the old three-score-day tides 

* Compare pp. 13 to 15 of the present book. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE SCANDINAVIAN YEAR 135 

have been made use of so little for that purpose that the common Germanic 
name for the time from November ti till January 11, or in Scandinavia 
from December 14 to February 14, Gothic liuleis^ as a monthly name 
appears solely in Modem Northic, and there, of course, is of artificial 
growth. 

We know little of the development of the Scandinavian year under 
Roman influence, but we know something about it As long as the pre- 
Julian Roman calendar prevailed among Scandinavians, an intercalary 
month was put in every fourth year by the doubling of the month of August. 
When the Julian Calendar, however, was adopted, the year was taken as 
consisting of 52 weeks at 7 days each, or 364 days. It was between the 
years a.d. 950 and 970 that, in Iceland, it was noted that this was wrong, 
the beginning of summer, which people had learnt to observe according to 
Roman custom, slowly shifting backwards.^ Thomstein Surt found an 
admirable means to meet this insufficiency. The Roman week of seven 
days had (as was remarked above) been introduced to the Germanics very 
early, and was in Scandinavia rooted much more deeply than the Roman 
year of 365 days and 12 months. Now the Northern year so far in 
use had comprised 52 full weeks, and it seemed to the people of Iceland 
most desirable not to interfere with the division of the year through the 
week without a fraction remaining behind. Thomstein found the proper 
way to escape the difficulty by keeping the year of 364 days and adding 
a leap week every seventh year, and in those periods of seven years which 
contained two leap years after the Roman fashion adding one every sixth 
year, that year being called leap year {hlaupdr), A tribe which, not so very 
long before, had had leap months, would naturally become more easily 
familiar with leap weeks than with leap days, especially when the congmity 
of 52 weeks and a year was preserved. 

In the Heimskringia more than once the statement is repeated that 
the Scandinavians had three great festive tides. As rq^ards the respective 
frequency of the festive tides mentioned, it appears that the most important 

^ IsUndingabSky chapter iv. ; Weinhold, Altnardisches Leben^ 1856, p. 379. The hlen- 
dingMk was written by An after the year 1134. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



1 86 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

was the festive tide at "winter-nights," i>., between October 9 and 14, a 
fact at which we cannot be astonished, because the very names of October 
igormdnudhry slagtmanad, blotmanad) point to the fiact that it was identical 
with the great cattle-killing time, and had, as its natural basis, an abundance 
of fresh meat unequalled in the whole course of the year. In the face of 
these facts Weinhold maintains: "Among all feasts of heathendom, the 
Yule-festival is the most important, it being the anticipation of the cele- 
bration of the winter solstice, and being named by a name primeval and 
obscure. It was held in the winter night ^ (December 14), and originally 
(how does Professor Weinhold know ?) comprised three days. The preceding 
day^ also was kept holy, being called hokundit^ hook-night^ The principal 
offering of the year was celebrated at Yule. When Christianity was intro- 
duced, the familiarisation of its customs was very much facilitated by the 
fact that its holy tides were close to those of the heathen. The Yule 
festival had to be advanced only by a few days to agree with Christmas. 
King Hakon Adalsteinfostri, the son of Harald harfagrs, fixed by law at 
least for Norway this advance by ten days. Yule bye and bye received a 
duration of ten days. In Norway, Yule, in a wider sense, is understood to 
mean the time between December 21 and January 13."* From this passage 
it appears that Professor Weinhold, when he wrote it, did not remember that 
the Gothic word liuieis and Anglo-Saxon Geola do not mean single days, 
but three-score-day tides in winter time. The same term (JO) must at one 
time have meant in Scandinavia the time from December 14 to February la. 
For we know that the Scandinavian year began at October 14; and if we 
will not make the year begin in the middle of such a three-score-day tide, 
we must allow one to pass before we come to Yule-tide. I M to see 
what induces Professor Weinhold to suppose a festival to have ever been 

* In reality ai veimdttum refers to the time about October 14. 
3 Weinhold apparently meant the eve of December 14. 

'Other explanations given by Weinhold are hoggundtt^ hewing-night (from Moggva^ to 
hew), offering-night (a term, perhaps, identical with English hog-maney^ December 31); 
haukandlt^ hawk-night I should rather be inclined to derive the word from hog^ swine. 

*Page 380. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



THE SCANDINAVIAN YEAR 187 

celebrated on December 14. It is in no way apparent from his text why 
the Scandinavians did not prefer to celebrate the winter solstice at its proper 
date, viz., December 17 (in 901 A.D.), but are alleged to have celebrated an 
"anticipation" of it on December 14. Assuming there had ever been a 
festival on December 14, where is the evidence that that festival was an 
''anticipation" of the solstice? His reference to Olafsaga Tryggvasonar^ 
chap, xxi., and Hdkofiarsaga gddha^ chap, xv., of the Heifnskringla shows how 
that strange confusion was created. Professor Weinhold simply misunderstood 
the text of the Heimskringla, King Hakon did not move forward a festival 
to fix it on December 25 ; he moved one back. So the festival, the date 
of which he shifted, was not celebrated at all in the middle of December, 
but a considerable time after the date of Christian Christmas. It is 
not without reason that modem Norway counts Yule till January 13. Whilst 
the three-score-day tide /6l extended from December 14 to February 14, 
the thirty-day period Jil^ which sprang out of the former, lasted from 
December 14 to January 13. 

Professor Weinhold b of opinion that the two feasts at the beginning 
and at the end of winter were of less importance than the Jil festival^ — 
the harvest festival /// drs^ and the spring festival of spring and victory.^ 
As regards his sa}ring that summer was without any more important 
celebration, it is entu-ely erroneous, few things being vouched so well 
as the feast at sumri (between June 9 and 14), which he, forgetting all 
about the Scandinavian climate, seems to assume to have been celebrated 
in March or April. Whilst during the Vikings' time of Norway it seems 
to have fallen somewhat into the background, it was preserved in Iceland 
in the shape of an AUthing till a very late time,^ so that, in reality, it is 
the great Thing of Iceland in the time when history sets in. Now, Weinhold 

himself says : '' The Scandinavian year began with the winter ; in historical 

# 

*Page 380. 

'The passages Olafsaga helga^ chap, civ., " hit thridhja at sumri, thd fEgna their sumari," 
etc., and Ynglingasagay chap, viii., "til sigrs," etc, point in the very opposite direction. 

' The sketch of the calendar of the Icelandic summer, according to the rules laid down 
in 999, given by Dahlmann, Geschichte von Daauniark^ Vol. II., pp. 227-231, shows the 
same lack in historical insight. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



1 88 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

times the beginning of winter was fixed on October 14.'*^ It apparently 
never occurred to him that June 9 to 14 and October 9 to 14 are distant 
exactly a thu-d of a year, or a long hundred of days, so that, if a tri-partition 
is to be assumed for the Scandinavian year as for the Western Germanic, 
the third term must have fallen in the middle of February ; whilst the dual 
division line went from October 9 to 14 to April 9 to 14, and in the course 
of time superseded the tri-partition, only very faint recollections of it being 
preserved. 

^ Weinhold, Deutsche Monatnamm^ p. 22. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER XIV. 

SCANDINAVIAN OFFERING TIDES. 

It is needless to say that the dual division and the tri-partition of the 
Scandinavian year, which are found alongside each other, are in the same 
way based upon an older partition of the year into six Aryan tides as 
among the Western Germanics, the six tides allowing a combination of 
two complexes of three tides, as well as of three complexes of two tides, 
though much less decisive traces of three-score-day tides are found in 
Scandinavia than in Germany and England. But whilst the fact that at one 
time there had been three seasons was remembered well in the Scandinavia 
of the thirteenth century, the three terms which divided them were no 
more remembered exactly, so that a number of mutually contradictory 
statements were made about them. 

In the time when King Odin ruled on earth, Snorri Sturluson tells us 
about 1230 in the Heimskringla that "all over Sweden men paid Odin scat^ 
to. wit a penny for every head, but he was bound to ward their land from 
war, and to sacrifice for them for a good year :" " Folk were to hold sacrifice 
against the coming of winter, for a good year, in midwinter for the growth 
of the earth, and a third in the summer that was an offering for gain and 
victory." ^ 

^ Heimskringla^ Vol. I., p. 20 {.Saga Library, ed. by Morris and Magndsson, Vol. III.), 
Ynglingasaga, chap. viii. : '*Thd skylldi bl6ta ( m6ti vetri til ^s, enn at midhjum vetri 
bl6ta til gT6dhrar ; hit thridhja at sumri, that var sigabl6t Um alia Svithi6d gulldu menn 
Odni skattpenning fyrir nef hvert ; enn hann skylldi vena land theirra fyrir tiiridi, oc bl6ta 
theim til ^rs/' which the Latin translation which is added, paraphrases this way; ''Sacrifida 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



190 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

When Snorri, later in the Heimskringla^ in the Story of Olaf the Holy 
(1012-1030), again touches on that point, he gives a still fuller account, 
thus : " Later on in the winter, the king (Olaf the Holy) was told that the 
Up-Thrandheimers were gathered together in multitudes at Mere, and that 
great blood-offerings had been there at midwinter ; and that there they had 
made blood-offerings for peace and a good winter season. And when the 
king deemed he knew for sure the truth of this, he sent men and messages 
up into Thrandheim, and summoned .the bonders down to the town, still 
naming by name such men as he deemed the wisest among them. So 
now the bonders had a parley and talked over this message between them ; 
and they were all the least willing to go this journey, who had fared the 
winter before. But at the prayer of all the bonders Olvir undertook the 
journey. And when he came down to the town, he went straightway to 
see the king, and then fell to talk. The king laid it on hand to the 
bonders that they had had a midwinter blood-offering. Olvir answered 
and said that the bonders were sackless of that guilt * We had,* said he, 

* Yule-biddings and drink-bouts far and wide about the countrysides. The 
bonders are not minded so to pinch them in their cheer for the Yule-feast, 
as that a good deal be not left over ; and this it was, lord, that men were 
a-drinking of long after. At Mere there is a great chief-stead and big 
houses, and mickle dwelling round about, and there folk deem it good 
glee to drink together a many.' The king answered little, and was rather 
cross-grained, deeming that he wotted that other things were truer than 
that which was now set forth. The king bade the bonders go back. 

* But yet,' says he, * I shall get to know the truth, to wit, that ye hide the 
matter and do not face it; but however things have gone hitherto, do no 
such things again.' So the bonders fared home again, and told of their 
journey that it had been none of the smoothest, and that the king was 

prima sub hiemem (jussit Othinus) institui, pro felicis anni adventu ; his proxima, media in 
hieme, pro anoonae felicitate et ubere glebae ; tertia, sub aestatem, pro victoria obtinenda. 
Per totam Sueciam, quodvis caput nummo censebatur, qui Othino solveretur, ut omnem 
hostilem vim ingruentem armis propulsaret, sacrificiaque pro annonae annique felicitate 
curaret " {Heimskringla of Sncrra Sturlusyni^ Historia Regum Norwegicorum conscripta 
a Sncrrio Slurlae filio^ Havniae, 1777, Yngltngasaga^ i., 13). 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SCANDINAVIAN OFFERING TIDES 191 

something wroth," ^ The truth about the story is told to the king by 
Thorald:^ "This is the truth to tell, king, if I am to tell things as they 
are, that throughout Upper Thrandheim, wellnigh all the folk are all-heathen 
in their faith, though some men be there who are christened. Now it is 
their wont to have a blood-offering in autumn to welcome the winter, and 
another at midwinter, and the third at summer for the welcoming of summer.® 
These are the ways of the Isle folk, the Sparebiders, the Verdale-folk, and 
the Skaun-folk. There are twelve men who take upon themselves to carry 
out the blood-feasts; and now next spring it is Olvir's turn to uphold 
the feast, and now he is in much ado at Mere, and thither have been 
brought all the goods which are needed for the feast" Olaf, consequently 
sailing there, hindered the festival by means of force, slaying Olvir and 
many others, taking other men's goods and fining the rest Another 
account is the following:* "But at home at his house Sigurd was in no 
way a man of lesser state. While heathendom was, he was wont to have 
three blood-offerings every year, one at winter-nights, another at midwinter, 
the third against [should be in] summer.* And when he took christening, 
he held the same wont in the matter of the feasts. In autumn, then, he 
had mickle bidding of friends, and in winter a Yule-bidding, and bade yet 
again many men to him ; and a third feast he had at Easter, and had then 
also a multitude. And to this wont he held as long as he lived. Sigurd 
died of sickness. Then was Asbiorn of eighteen winters. He took the 
heritage after his father; and he too held to the old wont, and had 
three feasts every year, even as his father had had. Now it was but a 
short while after Asbiorn took the heritage of his father, that the year's 
increase took to worsening, and the sowings of folk failed But Asbiorn 



^Sc^a Library^ by Morris and Magn6ssen, Vol. IV. ; Heimskringla, Vol. II., p. 194, 
The Story of Olaf the Holy, chap. cxiv. 

'Chap, cxv., p. 196. 

'*'En that er sidhr theirra at ha& bl6t d haustum ok fagna thd vetrl, annat bl6t ha& 
their at midhjum vetri, en hit thridhja at sumri, thd fagna their sumari." 

*/Wr/., chap, cxxiii, p. 214. 

* " Sigurdhr var vanr, at hafe threnn bl6t hvem vetr, eitt at vetmotturo, en annat at 
midhjum vetri, thridhja at sumri." 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



igi 



YULE AND CHRISTMAS 



held to the same wont as to his feasts, and in good stead it stood him 
then, that there was old corn and other old stores that were needed. 
But when this season wore and the next came round, the corn was no 
whit better than it had been afore. Then would Sigrid have the feasts done 
away with, some or all of them. But this Asbiom would not have ; so in 
harvest-time he went to see his friends, and bought corn whereso he 
might, and got it as gift from some. And so it came to pass that year, 
that he upheld all his feasts." When, in summer, he went aboard his ship 
and got com sold to him in the south, he was robbed of it by Thorir, 
who, however, then invited him to the Yule-feast, with his mother and 
such of their men as they would take with them. But Asbiom refused, 
and when Thorir after that slandered him, slew him before King 
Olafs eyes. 

These three annual offerings point clearly to the old tri-partition of the 
Germanic year; and, being in contradiction to the quartering of the year 
according to Roman custom, which was prevalent in Snorri's own time, 
may well be assumed to be historical truth, although every remark made 
by a Christian writer of the thirteenth century about the state of things 
four hundred years before that time, will naturally be liable to much doubt 
A very critical attitude, however, has to be taken up as regards the dates 
of these three festive times adorned with blood-offerings, as Snorri contra- 
dicts himself about them at various places of his book. There can be no 
doubt about the autumn festival — the feast a/ vetmbtium^ "for a good year" — 
the feast of the year's beginning. For apart from the fact that the record 
of such a festival agrees with the statement of Tacitus of the first century 
of our era, it has been pointed out before ^ that the Germanics in olden 
times r^arded the preceding night as part of a day, and the preceding 
winter part of a year's circle, so that they must needs begin their year 
with the banning of winter. The Goths of the sixth century, too, b^;an 
with November a new tide of sixty days, called Ijuleis, Snorri's story is 
quite consistent as regards this point. About the offerings "against the 
coming of winter," we learn not only from Snorri himself that they were 

* Compare pp. 17, 18. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



SCANDINAVIAN OFFERING TIDES 193 

not merely brought to the gods for "a good year" in general, but also for 
the bettering of the " earth's increase," which — til grbdhrar — he mentioned 
before as the peculiarity of the midwinter festival^ It was apparently in 
autumn also, when King Olaf Traetelia of Sweden was offered up "for the 
plenty of the year" (640 a.d.).* These autumn offerings were connected 
with great feasting.^ 



^ " Domald took to him the heritage of Visbur, his father, and ruled the lands ; and in 
his days there fell on the Swedes great hunger and £Eunine. Then the Swedes set up 
great blood-offerings at Upsala: the first autumn they offered up oxen, but none the 
more was the earth's increase bettered ;^ the next autumn they offered up men, and the 
increase of the year was the same, or worse it might be ; but the third autumn came the 
Swedes flockmeal to Upsala, whenas the sacrifices should be. Then held the great 
men counsel together, and were of one accord that this scarcity was because of Domald, 
their king, and withal that they should sacrifice him for the plenty of the year; yea, 
that they should set on him and slay him, and redden the seats of the gods with the 
blood of him; and even so they did'* {Ibid.^ Vol. I., p. 29, Yngiingasagat chap. xviiL). 
" The next autumn fared King Granmar and King Hiorvard, his son-in-law, to guesting in 
the isle called Sili at their own manor therein" {IHd,^ Vol. I., p. 62, YngOptgasaga, 
chap, xliii.). 

* " Now, King Olaf was a man but little given to blood-offering, and the Swedes were 
ill content therewith, and deemed that thence came the scarcity. So they drew together 
a great host, and fell on King Olaf, and took the house over him and burned him therein, 
and gave him to Odin, offering him up for the plenty of the year*' {Ibid,^ Vol. I., p. 66, 
Yn^ingasaga^ chap, xlvii.). 

' " But when Halfdan was one winter old, in the autumn- tide fared King Gudrod 
a-guesting, and lay on his ship in Stifla-sound, and great drinkings there were, and the 
king was very merry with drink " (a.d. 784), (Ibid,^ Vol. I., p. 71, Ynglingasaga^ chap, liii.); 
*< King Halfdan went in the autumn out to Vingulmark ; and so on a night whenas King 
Halfdan was a-feasting, there came to him at midnight the man," etc (/5f</., Vol. I., p. 80, 
Story of Halfdan (he Blacky chap. iv. ). An exact description of the festivities of these 
blood-offerings is given in the Story of Hakon the Greats chap. xvL {HeimskringUiy VoL I., 
p. 165 s.) : '< It was the olden custom that, when a blood-offering should be, all the bonders 
should come to the place where was the Temple, bringing with them all the victuals they 
had need of while the feast should last ; and at that feast should all men have ale with 
them. There also was slain cattle of every kind, and horses withal ; and all the blood 
that came firom them was called Mauty but ^/tnvZ-bowls were they called wherein the blood 
stood, and the hlatU-Usoi a rod made in the foshion of a sprinkler. With all the hUtut 
should the stalls of the gods be reddened, and the walls of the temple within and without, 
and the men-folk also besprinkled ; but the flesh was to be sodden for the feasting of men. 
Fires were to be made in the midst of the floor of the temple, with caldrons thereover, 

N 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



194 YULE AND CHRISTMAS, 

All through the YnglingasagoLy which stands at the b^inning of the 
Heimskringlay and tells the story of the oldest kings of Norway up to 
A.D. 825, the great festivities and banquets are held in autumn^ and are 
frequently used by some enemy as opportunities to slay the men when 
drunk, and bum their houses.^ Their date was at vetrndttum^ at the winter- 
nights, !>., at the beginning of winter, or October 9 to 14.* Up to the year 
840 the autumn festival stands first among the three annual festive tides, 
and, while frequent reference is made to it, there is not a single mention 
of a Yule-feast up to that year. Then for some time, until, indeed, about 
A.D. 1000, both are mentioned with about equal frequency; whilst after 
that date the importance of the Yule-feast grows as irapidly as the autumn 
festivity decays, and finally is merged entirely in a simple Christian St. 
Michaelmas. If even Eugen Mogk, as late as 1891, calls the Yule festival 
"undoubtedly the highest festival of our ancestors," • this can, among the 



and the health-cups should be borne over the fire. But he who made the feast, and was 
the lord thereof, should sign the cups and all the meat; and first should be drunken 
Odin's cup for the victory and dominion of the king, and then the cup of Niord and the 
cup of Frey for plentifiil seasons and peace. Thereafter were many men wont to drink 
the Bragi-cup; and men drank also a cup to their kinsmen dead who had been noble, 
and that was called the cup of Memory. Now, Earl Sigurd was the most bounteous 
of men, and he did a deed that was great of fame, whereas he made great feast of sacrifice 
at Ladir, and alone sustained all the costs thereof." 

^Thus King Granmar and his son-in-law, King Hiorvard, were slaughtered in the 
eighth century. **The next autumn fared King Granmar and King Hiorvard, his son-in4aw, 
to guesting in the isle called Sili at their own manor therein ; and so while they were at 
this feasting, thither came King Ingiald with his army on a night, and took the house 
over them, and burned them therein with all their folk," Yt^lingasaga^ chap, xliii., Heims- 
kringla^ Vol. I., 62. Thus King Pudrod was murdered about 784 ; thus King Halfdan 
was surprised and forced to flee into the woods about 830, Ynglingasaga, chap. liiL, and 
Story of Halfdan the Blacky chap. iv. ; thus Earl Sigurd was surprised during the autumn 
festival at Oglo, fire set to his house, and the stead burned and the earl therein, and all 
his folk with him, about a.d. 970, Heimskringlay Vol. I., p 205, Story of Harald 
Grty-cloak^ chap. v. 

* Compare Eugen Mogk, MythologU^ in Paul's Grundriss der gtrmoHischen PhilcUgie^ 
Strassburg, 1891, I., p. 1127. 

' MythologU^ in Hermann Paul's Grundriss der germanisckm Philptcgu^ Strastbofg, 
1891, Vol. L, p. 1 125. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SCANDINAVIAN OFFERING TIDES 



I9S 



Scandinavians, apply only to the time after a.d. iooo. The autumn was 
the great slaughtering time among the Scandinavians, and the memory of 
this fact lived still in Iceland about the middle of the thirteenth century.^ 
Somewhat later the autumn festival was even connected with Martinmas, 
though probably under German influence. A northern monk* told how, 
about the end of the tenth century, St Martin had appeared to Olaf 
Tryggvison, King of Norway, in a dream, and bade him give up drinking 
in honour of the old gods and drink in his honour in future. This can 
only apply to the feast on St Martin's day, which even in Scandinavia, 
where the year began about October 14, seems to have prevailed in later 
times. 

Things are not quite so simple with the Summer Festival. In chapter 
viii. of the Ynglingasaga^ Snorri states that it was celebrated in the 
summer — at sumri—Bnd in the story of Olaf Tryggvison (995-1000),* it is 
referred to as " the midsummer feast of offering,"* and as clearly heathen 

^ This is the date of the Eyrbyggjasaga^ the story of which is laid about the year looa 
Saga Library t II., p. 173: "So in the autumn Thorod was minded to slaughter the 
cow, but when men went after her, she was nowhere to be found. Thorod sent after 
her often that autumn, but found her not, and men deemed no otherwise than that the 
cow was dead or stolen away. But a little short of Yule, early on a morning at Karstead, 
as the herdsman went to the byre according to his wont, he saw a neat before the byre- 
door, and knew that thither was come the broken-l^;ged cow which had been missing. 
So he led the cow into the boose and bound her, and then told Thorod. Thorod went 
to the byre and saw the cow, and laid his hand on her, and now finds that she is with 
calf, and thinks good not to kill her ; and withal he had by then done all the slaughtering 
for his household whereof need was." 

*Odo monachus in Vita Olafi fUii Tryggwii^ chap, xxiv., according to Keissler, 
AntiquUates SeptmtrionaUs it Celticae^ p. 358 ; Schiller, Kr&uterbuch^ III., 12 ; P£u)nen- 
schmid, Germanische Emtefeste^ p. 499: "Ex £00 mari veniens Olaus ad insulam 
Norvegiae Mostur nominatam adplicuit. Hie noctu innotuit ipsi S. Martinus ejuscopus 
dicens illi : moris in his terris esse solet, cum convivia celebrentur, in memoriam Thoreri, 
Odini et aliorum asarum 8C3^hos evacuare. Hunc ut mutes volo atque in mei memoriam in 
posterum bibatur, tua cura effides. Vetus autem ilia consuetudo ut deponatur conveniens est " 

* Heimskringla^ Vol. I., p. 317, Story of Olaf Tryggvistm, chap. Ixxii. 

^ " So whereas the king spake softly to the bonders, their fierce mind was appeased, and 
thereafter all the talk went hopeftilly and peaceftilly, and at the last it was determined that 
the midsummer feast of ofiering should be holden in at Mere, and thither should come aU 
lords and mighty bonders, as the wont was ; and King Olaf also should be there." 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



196 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

in opposition to the Christian tendencies of Olaf Tryggvison. Although 
midwinter meant in Snorri's thirteenth century language January i, 
the midsummer festival was held at sumrt) i>., approximately between 
June 9 and 14.^ 

The offering was made "for peace and the plenty of the year/'* and 
Professor Mogk admits that at that time of the year the great Thing 
assemblies were wont to be held.* He is of opinion that the offering 
tides in June and October, although mentioned at various places, were 
comparatively unimportant as compared with the great festive tide at 
midwinter. This is, again, in some d^ee to be admitted for the time 
after 1000 a.d., but before that time the very contrary was the case, as the 
simple enumeration of autumn offerings mentioned in the early parts of 
the Heimskringia shows.^ It is not strange that the summer Thing should 
have lost its old consequence at a time when, every summer, more men 
were abroad on board their ships, so that sometimes even the whole arms- 
bearing host was far in the west, and scattered along the coasts of the 
Baltic and the German Ocean, up to the Orkneys and Iceland. It well 



^Mogk, MytkohgUy p. 1 127, in Paul's Grundriss tUr germanischm PhilohgU^ I., who 
believes in the quartering of the Germanic year, also puts it in June. So does Willibald 
Leo, in his notes to his translation of the Hovard Irfjordingssaga^ Heilbronn, 1878, p. 129 : 
" 1st kurzweg von ' Thing ' die Rede, so ist dabei auf Island gewohnlich das fUr das ganze 
Land geltende AUthing gemeint, welches alljahrlich einmal in der elften Woche des Sommers 
(Auf Island wurde das Jahr namlich in Sommer und Winter geteilt, und der Beginn des 
Sommers fiel auf den Donnerstag zwischen dem 9 und 15 April) ungefdhr um die St. 
Johanniszeit (gegen Ende Juni) abgehalten wurde und 14 Tage wahrte." His note is 
explanatory of a passage of the Hovardsaga (p. 19 of his translation), which runs: 
"Thorbjdm, Thjodrek's son, rode every summer with his folk to the Thing;" p. ao: 
** III the same summer in which Hovard and his son went away, Thorbjom rode to the 
Thing ; " p. 21 : ** Thorbjom rode home from the Thing with Gest to Bardastrand, where, 
in the very same summer, the wedding was held with a splendid dinner ; '' p. 32 : " But in 
summer Thorbjom rode to the Thing." The story of the Hovardsaga is laid in the tenth 
century. 

^ Hiimskringla^ Vol. I., p. 319, Story of Olaf Tryggvism, chap. Ixxiv. 
^Mythologies p. 1127. 

^Compare Maurer, BetUhrung des norwegischin Stammes gum Christintum, MUnchen, 
1855-56, 11., 233, 237. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SCANDINAVIAN OFFERING TIDES 



X97 



accords therewith that the feast, and the Thing connected with it, are 
touched comparatively seldom by Snorri and other writers, although the 
existence of a midsummer festival is proved by the few existing men- 
tions of it 

Beside the Summer Festival or feast at sumrt\ />., June 9 to 14, 
there was, in the eighth century, a Spring Festival "at the coming of 
summer," also containing a blood-offering "for good peace."^ 

It is to Snorri himself that we owe the detailed knowledge of the further 
evolution of that festivity. " In Sweden," he tells us in the Heimskringlay 
"it was an ancient custom, while the land was heathen, that the chief 
blood-offering should be at Uppsala in the month of G6i (February) ; then 
should be done blood-offering for peace and victory to their king. Thither 
folk should seek from the whole realm of Sweden, and there at the same 
time withal should be the Thing of all the Swedes. A market and a fair was 
there also, which lasted for a week. But when Sweden was christened, the 
Law-Thing and the market were holden there none the less. But now, 
when Sweden was all christened, and the kings forbore to sit at Uppsala, 
the market was flitted, and held at Candlemas, and that has prevailed ever 
since, and now it is held for but three days. There is holden the Thing 
of the Swedes, and thither they seek from all parts of the land."^ It is 
very strange that this Gbiblbt should not have been recognised as one of 
the three old offering tides, but that, ever since Maurer gave his opinion 
in that sense, it has been regarded as a feast of second rank.^ Professor 

' '*The next spring went King Granmar to Uppsala to the blood-offering, as the wont 
was at the coming of summer, for good peace ; and sochwise the lot fell to him thereat 
that he would not live long : so he went home to his realm " [Hdmskringla, Vol. I., p. 62, 
y^f^ingasaga, chap. xlii.). This festival must not be confused with the feast at Hadaland 
{f/eimskringlay Vol. I., p. 86, Story of Ha^dan the Blacky chap, ix.), riding home 
from which King Halfdan the Black was, in a.d. 863, drowned in the river through the 
ice breaking under him, just as King Hring, when he drove with his queen, Ingibiorg, 
to a great guesting, was in danger of being drowned, because the ice of the lake broke over 
which he drove (Fridhthj^ssaga^ chap. xiii.). 

^ ffdmskringia^ Vol. II., p. ill, The Story of Olt^ the Holy ^ chap. IxxviL 

' Maurer, Bekehrung des norwegischen Stammes turn Christenium^ Mttnchen, 1855-56, 

II., 236. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



198 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Mogk says, however, rightly enough, that at this chief-offering at Uppsala, 
before all, Freyr, the god of the sky, was revered, that in those days the 
Scandinavians began to feel the return of the sun, and that this feast 
was probably the feast of the sun returning.^ When he continues — 
"About the same time it is that up till to-day the folk celebrate 
festivities. Then, at Shrove-tide, outside, in the open air fires are lit; 
on those days the wheel as a symbol of the sun plays a part, not 
at the time of the twelve nights "^ — ^he is quite correct, with one reserva- 
tion. The time when these customs are observed is not Shrove-Tuesday, 
but Mittfasten^ />., the Sunday Laetare^ which is, as a rule, about one 
month later — about the tenth of March — ^although it varies with Easter 
within a considerable space. But Mogk is clearly right in putting 
the Gbiblbt beside the German sun-wheel-festivities, the characteristic of 
which is that a wooden wheel tied roimd about with ropes of straw, and 
set on fire, is rolled down from a hill-top to make the fields fertile. The 
corresponding Anglo-German spring festivity is bound to be one month 
later, since the Anglo-German winter b^ns one month later than the 
Scandinavian, /.^., about Martinmas. 

Snorri himself tells us* how this festive tide, which was connected with 
a Thing and a market, was shifted back from about the middle of February 
to the very banning of the month (February 2), its eve being, of course, 
the evening of February i. Thus the feast came into almost immediate 
touch with the Germanic three-score-day tide called Jbl^ which among 
Scandinavians must have meant, in the time after the Roman months had 



^Mogk, Mythologies in Paul's Grundriss der germanischen PhilologUy I., 1126-27: 
** Neben diesem Hauptfeste (J6I) wurde ungefahr einen Monat si^iter, im Febniar im Norden 
das G6ibl6t gefdert. ... In diese Zeit fiel auch das Hauptopfer zu Uppsala, wo namentlich 
der Himmelsgott Freyr verehrt wurde. An diesen Tagen beginnen die Scandinavier eine 
Rttckkehr der Sonne zu merken. Ich glaube daher, dass vielmehr dieses Fest das Fest der 
wiederkehrenden Sonne gewesen ist" 

^"An diesen Tagen ist es auch, wo noch das Volk in £>eutschland Feste feiert; an 
ihnen, m Fastnachten, werden draussen im Freien Feuer entziindet, an diesen Tagen spielt 
das Wagenrad ak Symbol der Sonne eine Rolle, nicht zur Zeit der zwolf Nachte." 

* HeimskHngla^ Vol II., p. iii, Story ofOlaftke Holy^ chap. Ixxvil 



X -• 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Digitized by VjOOQI 



SCANDINAVIAN OFFERING TIDES 199 

been accepted, December and January, ending with January 31. At the 
same time the middle of the three-score-day tide Jbl received a significance 
it had never possessed before. While, formerly, the year had begun at 
vetmbttum^ or between October 9 and 14, the beginning of the year was 
now shifted over to vsCxArJbl^ i.e.y January i. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER XV. 



SCANDINAVIAN YULE. 



The Autumn Festival, held between October 9 and 14; the Spring Festival, 
celebrated between February 9 and 14; and the Summer Festival, kept 
between June 9 and 14, are without doubt, according to Snorri*s own 
report, the three great offering tides appearing up to the beginning of the 
ninth century. Even the dates of them can be fixed very exactly. It is 
true Eugen Mogk rejects the assumption of fixed Germanic festive days 
altogether, and is of opinion that there existed only festive tides, which 
were not dependent on the position of the sun, but rather on the in- 
fluence of the sun upon the earth, 1.^., on the fundamental condition of 
economic existence;^ and, of course, in olden times the fixing of these 
festive tides may have been a little different in various parts of the 
country. On the other hand, the division of the year into six three-score-day 
tides was taken over by the Germanics in prehistoric times. It is 
tantamoimt to a counting of three hundred and sixty days, or perhaps 
even of three hundred and sixty-six days, and nobody will deny that a 
tribe which counts the days of the year according to an established 
standard is absolutely in a position to fix its festive tides very exactly. 
It is no doubt strange that Snorri, in his general remark on Scandinavian 

^ He says : " Sun and day were, in the minds of our ancestors, things thoroughly 
different from each other. The Germanics cared little for the increasing of days. It 
was only when they noticed that the days grew warmer through the resplendent star of 
heaven that they felt the sun drawing nearer to them." Paul's Grundriss der ger- 
mamschen PhilohgU^ Strassburg, 1891, I., p. 1126. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SCANDINAVIAN YULE 



^61 



festive tides in chapter viii. of the Yngiiftgasaga^ does not mention these 
three, but only two of them, leaving out the Spring Festival, and mentioning 
instead a feast between January 9 and 14. This is the more strange, as 







^oman Atttnimi! 
Equinox. 



Roman Spring 
Equinox. 



w 



they fulfil all requirements of the three old Germanic beginnings of the 
single seasons, being each distant from the others by four months or two 
three-score-day tides. For the very same reason it is not well possible 
to assail Snorri's statement when he maintains that the old Scandinavians 
had three great offering tides only. He being not only acquainted 



Digitized by 



Google 



>>02 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

with and brought up in the Christian saints' days, but being also on 
close terms with the Roman calendar, which at his time was the calendar 
of his Icelandic compatriots, it would have been only natural for him to look 
at all questions connected with the division of the year from the stand- 
point of a quartering of the year according to solstices and equinoxes.^ 
Special weight has therefore to be attached to all statements of his in which 
his mind appears to have been free from any prejudice to the effect 
that conditions prevailing in his own time had obtained also in the far 
away past of his ancestors. Records of single outstanding events may 
live unchanged for centuries in the memory of a nation, but as r^ards 
customs and general conditions of life — such things as are gone through 
year by year— every older status is almost completely wiped out of memory 
as soon as it disappears from reality. We ourselves find it difficult to 
imagine that our own ancestors, a hundred years ago, should have lived 
under conditions and forms of life different from ours, and historians have 
always been only too much inclined to assume that the state of things 
recorded by the oldest people living held good also for two centuries 
prior to their own time. 

Snorri has no knowledge of the fact that, four hundred years previous 
to his own lifetime, /<$/ denoted a three-score-day tide extending approximately 
over December and January; and although for him the word Jbl never 
means a single day, but in various places a shorter or longer festive period, 
he apparently takes the festival about midwinter time for an old Germanic 
festival. On the other hand, a writer of the first half of the thirteenth 
century cannot be r^arded as an authority on the conditions of the 
sixth or eighth century, more especially if his various reports are absolutely 
irreconcilable. And it apparently escaped his notice that, though he thought 
that the festival about the middle of January was of ancient growth, he 
was himself unable to give a historical instance of a Yule celebration 
previous to 840, while his records of autumn festivals, spring festivals, 

^ King Olaf fell on Wednesday the fourth of the Calends of August (ffeUnskringiti^ 
Vol. II., Story of Olaf th* Holy)\ on the Nones of January (/W., p. 157, The Story tf 
Harold the Hard-redy^ chap. Ixzix.) ; on the ninth of the Calends of January (/W., p. 
327, The Story of Sigurd JermaJemfarer^ chap. xxilL). 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SCANDINAVIAN YULE 



203 



and summer festivals were considerably older. Indeed, the spring festival 
had completely disappeared from his story when the Yule festival made 
its debut These, however, are serious facts, and the only conclusion 
to be drawn from them is that, in his rime, the old spring festival was 
merely preserved in a market in Sweden, having everywhere else been 
completely absorbed in the Yule festival which had arisen under the 
influence of the Roman calendar and won such an importance that it 
was regarded as genuine and old. 

It is under King Granmar, in the eighth century,^ that the last historical 
Gbiblbt is mentioned by Snorri to have been held, and it is about the 
middle of the ninth century that, for the first time, a Yule-tide is spoken 
of by him as having been celebrated by guesting. Is it too daring a 
supposition that, within the century which had elapsed between the two 
events, Jblblbt had taken the place of Gbiblbt} And could Gbiblbt^ which 
had its name from the month of Gbi^ have received with equal ease another 
name than Jblblbt^ according to the month in which it was now held ? ^ In 
the tenth century the Yule-feast extended over some days,' and its celebration 
b^an between January 9 and 14. 

It was Hakon the Good, King of Norway from 940 to 963, who changed, 
or tried to change, this state of affairs, ordering that the holy tide should 
in future b^n with December 25 after the Christian fashion, and be kept 
in a festive and proper way. Snorri's report on this important episode 



^ HHmskringia^ Vol. I., p. 62, Ynglingasaga^ chap, xlii 

'The first instance of a particular yiif/ occurring in the Heimskringla is VoL I., p. 82, 
Story oj Halfdan the Black, chap. v. : " But at Yule-tide King Halfdan (840-863) was 
guesting in Heathmark, and had heard all these tidings." It is almost immediately 
followed by another which is connected with a story bearing a clearly legendary character, 
and telling how all the victuals vanished from the festive table {Heimskringla^ Vol. I., 
p. 85, Story of Halfdan the Black, chap. viii.). The next Yule story is of the same kind 
\HeimskriHgla, Vol. I., p. 120, Story of Harold Haitfair, chap, xzv., about A.D. 880). It 
is, in fiict, the German fieury tale of Schneewittchen, i,e,, Snow-white. 

*King Hakon (940-963) held his Yule-feast at Thrandheim, which feast Earl Sigurd 
arrayed for him at Ladir. There, on the first night of Yule, Bergliot, the earl's wife, 
brought forth a man-child ; and the next day King Hakon sprinkled the lad with water, etc 
(Ibid,, Vol. I., p. 161, Story of Hakon the Good, chap zii.). 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



104 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

runs thus: "King Hakon was a well-christened man when he came to 
Norway; but whereas all the land was heathen, and folk much given to 
sacrificing, and many great men in the land, and that he deemed he lacked 
men sorely and the love of all folk, he took such rede that he isLred 
privily with his Christian faith. Sunday he held and the Friday fast, and 
he made a law that Yule should be holden the same time as Christian 
men hold it, and that every man at that tide should brew a meal of malt 
or pay money else, and keep holy tide while Yule lasted. But aforetime 
was Yule holden on Aoku night, that is to say, midwinter night, and Yule 
was holden for three nights."^ 

' l/eimskringla^ Vol. I., p. 163, Story of Hakon the Good^ chap. xv. : *' Hann setti that 
( logum at hefja j61ahald thann tfma sem kristnir menn, ok skyldi thd hverr madhr eiga 
maelis 51, en gjalda ii ella, en halda heilagt medhan j61in ynnist En ^r var j6Uihald hafit 
hdkun6tt, that var midhsvetrar n6tt, ok haldin thriggja dUta j61," Heimskringia elUr 
Norges Kongcsagaer af Snorre Sturlmson^ ed. by C R. Unger, Christiania, 1868, p 92. 
Morris and Magndsson tnmslate hdkH9t6tt as Hogmanay, i,e.f December 31 ; but however 
well that would suit my own theory about the evolution of the Scandinavian year, in 
illustrating a stage at which, according to Roman Calends custom, Yule was kept on 
January I, I do not think there is any reason to identify kdkutUtt with Hogmanay; and 
the more caution is requisite since the etymology of both words is entirely uncertain. 
Hogmanay or Hogmenay was a Northumbrian name of December (John Jamieson, An 
Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language^ under *' Hogmanay"), while in Scotland it 
has denoted, at least since the beginning of the nineteenth century, the last day of that 
month only. Lambe {.Notes to the Battle of Floddon^ P ^) derives it from Ayui H-'¥^% 
holy month, the common Northumbrian form being at hb time Hagmana^ but he gives no 
proof that December was ever called HytA /n/jtmi in Scotland. If, among the Scandinavian 
nations, a name slaughter-month for December could be shown to have existed, it would 
not be impossible to assume for the north country a name consisting of hoggva^ to hew 
{hogg is stroke), and ntonth. But an explanation would have to be given why the word 
was not formed of A.S. hedvan^ to hew, and mondth. For although there exists a word 
hygitt h/g, hay, the A.S. verb has no more a g. Nevertheless hedvan and hoggva must have 
been felt to be the same word. There remain two other possibilities of derivation, namely, 
from hctgf witch, and from hog^ pig. And until it has been shown what witches have to 
do with December, I should rather be inclined to take hogmanay as pig-month, Le.^ month 
in which pigs were killed. It b strange that the ultimate bearing of the name would 
thus be almost identical with what it would have been if it consbted of hoggva and month. 
But apart from all that, I do not see how, among a people which counts the winter firom 
October 9 to 14 to April 9 to 14, as the Scandinavians alwajrs did in historical times, 
midwinter's night can mean anything but a night between January 9 and 14. When Eric 
Gustave Geijer, in hb History of the Swedes (translated by Turner, London, without year, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



SCANDINAVIAN YULE 205 

However serious attempts were made by Hakon the Good to win his 
folk over to Christianity, he did not succeed. An eari of his called all 
his bonders together to a place called Ladir, and himself giving all the 
victuals and ale, arranged a huge blood-offering, at which the king appeared. 
His proposal to give up their old religion and customs was received with 
undivided disapproval, so that the king thought it wisest to take part in 
the offering in order not to lose his crown and kingdom. It is not quite 
plain from the record given by Snorri Sturluson ^ at which of the three 
great annual festivals this was; but it is certain that the next great event 
connected with Hakon's attempt to withhold himself from an all too 
public celebration of blood-offering festivities "took place in the autumn- 
tide at winter-nights," which at that time still outshone in splendour the 
January festivity. While so far the king had preferred to take his meal 



p. 43), tells this according to Snorri, he adds a note which shows that that festival, in his 
o[nnion, was originally kept in February (between February 9 and 14), then about Candle- 
mas, then about midwinter (January 14), then about January i, and finally on December 25. 
lie only confuses February 9 to 14, and midwtntersnatten. The time at the beginning or about 
the middle of February can never have been called midwinter, but was simply the end 
of the third of the year, beginning between October 9 and 14. Geijer's note is : "It is 
related of Sigurd Thorson, a rich Norw^;ian, that he had the custom, while heathenism 
existed, of keeping three sacrifices every year — one at the commencement of winter, the 
second in midwinter, and the third towards summer. But after he had embraced 
Christianity, he preserved the custom of giving entertainments. In harvest he kept with 
his friends a harvest-home, in winter a Christmas revel, and the third feast he held at 
Easter ; and many guests were gathered at his board '' {Saga of St, Olave^ chap, cxxiii. ). Hacon 
the Good of Norway had removed the Pagan Yule, formerly observed as midwinter's 
night {midmnterstuUtm)^ called also hawk's night {hifkenatten), and kept at the beginning 
of February, according to the Harvarar Saga, to the Catholic Christmas {Saga of Haco, 
chap. XV.). Candlemas, celebrated at the time of the old winter sacrifice, is still cedled in 
some provinces Little Yule. In full accordance with this report Eugen Mogk says : *' There 
is no foundation whatever for taking ... the great winter festival, called Yule-festival by 
the Scandinavians, for the feast of the sun returning " (in Paul's Grundriss der germanischm 
PhilologU^ Strassburg, 1891, I., p. 1126). In conformity with that, Professor Kaufinann fixed 
its original date at the end of January, and Professor Elard Hugo Meyer at the beginning of 
February, but I do not see how we can help (according to the beginning of winter 
between October 9 and 14 and the banning of summer between April 9 and 14) fixing it 
at February 9 to 14. 

^ H$ifnskringla, Vol. I., p. i66*i68, Story 0^ Hakon the Good^ chap, xvii 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



2o6 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

privately on such occasions, he was now compelled to take it publicly 
in the hall and to make many compromises, however much he might 
grudge them. Snorri tells it thus: "In the autumn-tide at winter-nights 
was there a blood-offering held at Ladir, and the king went thereto. 
Heretofore he had ever been wont, if he were abiding at any place where 
was a feast of blood-offering going on, to eat his meat in a little house 
with but few folk, but now the bonders murmured at it, that he sat not 
in his own high-seat, where the feast of men was greatest; and the earl 
said to the king that so he would not do as now. So it was therefore 
that the king sat in his high-seat But when the first cup was poured, 
then spake Earl Sigurd thereover, and signed the cup to Odin, and drank 
off the horn to the king. Then the king took it, and made the sign of 
the cross thereover; and Karl of Griting spake and said: *Why doeth 
the king thus, will he not do worship?' Earl Sigurd answers: *The 
king doth as they all do who trow in their own might and main, and he 
signeth the cup to Thor. For he made the sign of the hammer over it 
before he drank.' So all was quiet that eve. But on the morrow, when 
men went to table, the bonders thronged the king, bidding him eat horse- 
flesh, and in no wise the king would. Then they bade him drink the 
broth thereof, but this would he none the more. Then would they have 
him eat of the dripping, but he would not; and it went nigh to their 
falling on him. Then strove Earl Sigurd to appease them, and bade 
them lay the storm ; but the king he bade gape over a kettle-bow, whereas 
the reek of seething had gone up from the horse-flesh, so that the kettle- 
bow was all greasy. Then went the king thereto, and spread a linen 
cloth over the kettle-bow, and gaped thereover, and then went back 
to the high-seat; but neither side was well pleased thereat"^ This was 
not the end of the trouble caused by his Christian belief. "The next 
winter was the Yule-feast arranged for the king in Mere. But when 
time wore towards Yule, the eight lords who had most dealing in blood- 
offerings of all Thrandheim appointed a meeting " between themselves and 
"bound themselves to this, that the four of Outer Thrandheim should 

'^ HHmskringU^ VoL I., p. 170, Story gf Hakm tki Gcod, chap, xviii. ^ 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SCANDINAVIAN YULE 207 

make an end of the Christian faith in Norway, and the four of Inner 
Thrandheim should compel the king to blood-offering. So the Outer 
Thrandheim fared in four ships south to Mere, and there slew three 
priests, and burned three churches, and so gat them back again. But 
when King Hakon came to Mere with his court and Earl Sigurd, there 
were the bonders come in great throngs. The very first day of the feast 
the bonders pressed hard on the king, bidding him offer, and threatening 
him with all things ill if he would not. Earl Sigurd strove to make 
peace between them, and the end of it was that King Hakon ate some 
bits of horse-liver, and drank crossless all the cups of memory that the 
bonders poured for him. But so soon as the feast was ended, the king 
and the earl went out to Ladir. Of full little cheer was the king, and 
straightway he arrayed him for departing from Thrandheim with all his 
court, saying that he would come with more men another time and pay 
back the bonders for the enmity they had shown him. But Earl Sigurd 
prayed the king not to hold them of Thrandheim for his foes for this; 
and said that no good would come to the king of threatening or warring 
against the folk of his own land, and the very pith of his realm, as 
were the folk of Thrandheim. But the king was so wroth, that no 
speech might be held with him. He departed from Thrandheim, and 
went south to Mere, and abode there that winter and on into spring; 
and as it summered he drew together an host, and rumour ran that 
he would fall on the Thrandheimers therewith."^ But when the king 
learned the news that the King of Denmark had invaded his country, 
he preferred to lead his army against him, and was supported therein by Earl 
Sigurd and the Thrandheimers (about 955 a.d.).^ He died in 963, his attempts 
to establish Christianity in Norway having utterly failed. For some time 
to come the new belief could not root itself in Norway; and when the sons of 
King Eric of Denmark, who had been christened in England, came to 
Norway and broke down temples and abolished the offering festivals, 
they gained only hatred thereby. When Earl Hakon had hung up King 

^ ffeimskringlat Vol. I.,' p. 170 f., Story of Hakon the Good^ chap. xix. 
^ Ibid,^ pp. 171, 172, chap. zx. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



2o8 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Harald on a gallows and subdued all the land, he bade restore the 
temples and blood-oflferings throughout all his dominions.^ And although 
later some men took christening, they turned back to blood-offering; 
and even when King Olaf I. Tryggvison established Christianity by 
force and cruelty in Norway about 998, the country was by no means 
Christian.^ Just as, some centuries earlier, the Autumn Festival had been 
the opportunity frequently chosen for surprising the enemy at feast and 
dnmk, now from the beginning of the eleventh century the Yule-tide 



^ HHmskringla^ Vol. I., p. 242, Story of Olaf TryggiHsoHt chap. xvi. 

* Under his reign the first Easter is recorded in the ffeimskrtnqla, I., p. 313, Story 
of Olaf Tryggvuon in 999 : '* [he] came at Easter eve to Ogvaldsness in Kormt-isle. And 
there was his Easter-feast arrayed for him," as well as the first Michaelmas, I., p. 336, 
Story of Olaf Tryggvison^ chap. Ixxxix. : "And now was Michaelmas come, and the 
king let hold high-tide, and sing mass full gloriously ; and thither went the Icelanders, 
and hearken the &ir song, and the voice of the bells." In the Stories that follow in 
the Heimskringla the names of Christian festivals get ever more numerous: "It befell on 
Ascension day that King Olaf went to high mass," Heimskringla, II., p. 131, 
Story of Olaf the Holy, chap. Ixxxv. ; "at Candlemas," Ibid., p. 152, Story 
of Olaf the Holy, chap xdil ; "King Olaf had a great feast at Easter, and had 
many men of the town bidden and many bonders withal," Ibid,, p. 195, Story of Olaf 
th€ Holy, chap. cxv. ; "After Candlemas," Ibid,, p. 221, Story of King Olaf tJU Holy, 
chap, cxxiv. ; " The king says : * Is it not a guilt unto death, Skialg, if a man break the 
Easter peace?'" Ibid,, p. 223, chap. cxxv. ; "the day before Michaelmas," Ibid,, 
p. 325, chap. dxii. ; " On Thomas-mass before Yule in the very first dawn," Ibid., 
p. 354, chap. clxxxvL ; " The next day was Michaelmas Eve," Ibid,, III., p. 35, 
TAe Story of Magnus the Good, chap. xxviiL ; "ere Michaelmas," Ibid,, p 50, 
chap, xxxvi. ;"the battle was on the Wednesday next before Matthewmass," Ibid,, 
p. 168, chap. Ixxxviii. ; "about candlemas," Ibid:, p. 207, The Story of Ktng Magnus 
Barefoot, chap. ii. ; "the day before Bartholomewmas," Ibid,, p. 240, chap. xxvi. ; "a high- 
tide, Whitsunday to wit," Ibid., p. 288, chap. xxx. ; "one night after Marymass in autumn," 
Ibid,, p. 310, chap. xlii. ; "on Whitsunday," Ibid., p. 325, Story of Magnus the Blind and 
Harald Gilli, chap. ix. 5 "and this was Michaelmass," Ibid,, p. 458, Story of King Magnus, 
son of Erling, chap, xviii. ; "when Lenten &st was wearing," Ibid,, p. 467, Story <f King 
Magnus, son of Erling, chap. xxv. ; "to Rogation-days' Thing," Ibid,, p. 467; "on Tuesday 
in Rogation-days," Ibid., p. 468; "in the night before Ascension day," Ibid,, p. 468 ; "The 
priest who sang at Rydiokul, which is on the water, bade the earl and his to a feast, 
to come there at Candlemas," Ibid,, p 475, Story of King Magnus, son of Erling, 
chap, xxxii. ; "That was the latter Marymass," Ibid,, p. 481, Story of King Magnus, son of 
Erling, chap, xxxix. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SCANDINAVIAN YULE 



209 



was used for the same purpose ; ^ while among friends it became a custom 
to feast the first half of Yule-tide at the home of the one and the 
second half at the home of the other, the two parts being called the 
earlier and the latter Yule. " Thorod was with another man at Thorar's ; 
and there was mickle Yule-feast and gild ale drinkings. There were many 
bonders living in that thorp, and they all drank together through the 
Yule-tide. Another thorp there was a little way thence; there dwelt a 
kinsman-in-law of Thorar, a mighty man and a wealthy. He had a son 
full grown. These kinsmen-in-law were to drink half Yule at each other's, 
beginning at Thorar's. The kinsmen-in-law drank against each other, and 
Thorod against the bonder's son. It was a champion drinking, and in 
the evening was mickle masterful talk and man-pairing betwixt the Norway 
men and the Swedes."^ In the term "Little Yule," which provincially 
means Candlemas, and which presupposes a corresponding "Great Yule," 
and in the terms "earlier Yule" and "latter Yule," there are contained 
reminiscences of a halving of the older Yule-tide of three scores of days, 
which on A.S. ground was divided into arra Geola and aftera Geola^ and 
among the Goths in fruma liuleis and * aftuma liuleis. 

The days of Yule are counted like the days of the month in the Roman 
calendar, and under our eyes, as it were, that festive tide grows and grows. 



^ Heimskringla, II., p. 48, The Story of Olaf the Holy (1012-1030), chap, xxxix. : 
" Earl Svein was then up Thrandheim at Steinker, and let array there a Yule feast ; 
there was a cheaping-stcad ; " p. 53, chap. xlii. : ** Even at that nick of time came the host of 
the earl into the town, and they took all the Yule victuals and burnt all the houses." 
The same is evident from the Eyrbyggjasaga written about 1250, but telling a story 
of the time about 1000 {Saga Library^ II., p. 79), which contains the following: 
"That winter at Yultide had Thorolf a great drinking, and put the drink round briskly 
to his thraUs ; and when they were drunk, he egged them on to go up to Ulfar*s-fell 
and bum Ulfar his house, and promised to give them there freedom therefore;" p. 125: 
"Then Steinthor and his men misdoubted them, that there would be going the 
sons of Thorbrand minded for the Yulefeast at Holyfell;" p. 147: **in the winter a 
little before Yule;" p. 148: "Kiartan and Thurid bade their neighbours to the arvale, 
and their Yule ale was taken and used for the arvale." 

^ Heimskringla, Vol. IL, p. 296, Story of Olaf the Holy, chap. cli. : ". . . Now 
when mid- Yule was come, Thorar and all his freedmen with him went to his kinsman- 
in-law, and there he was to drink the latter Yule." 

O 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



2IO YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

Snorri informs us that, so long as Yule was held in January, it was celebrated 
for three days;i but when it took its new date, for three-quarters of a century 
it became a celebration of at least eight days, the eighth day (January i) 
being the day of giving gifts of friendship, according to Roman Calends-of- 
January custom. Even King Olaf the Good stuck to that custom, however 
much stress he laid on Christian rites.* King Olaf was expelled from his 
country by King Cnut of Denmark, who, at his death, was succeeded by 
King Svein. As r^ards Yule-tide, Svein's reign is remarkable for the fact 
that he made it a legal term at which duties had to be paid, which it 
apparently had not been until then.* By this act a new step was taken 
towards a complete overtaking of the Roman calendar, which made as quick 
and steady progress as the doctrine, feasts, and rites of Christianity. Bye 
and bye the Christian customs obtained sway all over the land. It became 
the habit to fast on Yule-eve, and begin the festivities not earlier than Yule- 
day, as the 25th of December was called in the twelfth century. Neither was 
it any more the habit, as it had been, to have concubines on the night 
preceding Yule-day.* The introduction of fasting also is vouched by another 

* Heimskringla^ Vol. I., p. 163, Story of Hakon the Good^ chap. xv. 

" ** King Olaf had a great Yule-feast, at which there was gathered to him a many great 
men. On the seventh day of Yule it fell that the king went a-walking, and a few men with 
him. Sigvat followed the king day and night, and at this time he was with him. So they 
went to a certain house, wherein were guarded the precious things of the king. He had 
then had great store arrayed, as his wont was, and fetched together his precious things for 
this sake, to give gifts of friendship on the eighth eve of Yule" {HHmskringla^ Vol. II., 
p. 337, Story of Olaf the Holy^ chap, clxxii.). 

' " King Svein (1030- 1035) brought new laws into the land for many matters, which were 
framed after the manner of the laws of Denmark, but some mickle harder. ... At Yule 
every man was to bring the king a measure of malt for every hearth, and a thigh of a three- 
winter ox, that was called pasture-tod, and a keg of butter withal ; and every housewife was 
to give housewife's-tow, that is to say, so much of undressed flax as might be spanned by 
the biggest finger and the longest" {Heimskringla, Vol. II., p. 450, Story of Olaf the Holy^ 
chap, ccliii.). 

^ Heimskringla^ III., p. 294, The Story of Sigurd Jerusalem farer^ Eystein and Okf^ 
chap, xxxiii. : "So befell on a time on Yule-eve, as the king (Sigurd Jerusalem-ikrer, 
1 103- 1 130) sat in the hall and the boards were set, that the King said: 'Fetch me flesh- 
meat.' * Lord,* said they, *it is not wont in Norway to eat flesh-meat on Yule-eve.* He 
answered : ' If it be not the wont, then will I have it the wont.* So they came and had in 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SCANDINAVIAN YULE 211 

Saga. The Eyrbyggjasaga^ dating from about 1250, tells a story of about 
the year 1000. Its Yule is absolutely the Christian Christmas, preceded 
by an Advent-fast or Yule-fast,^ and celebrated by a great drinking.* After 
another century people thought it no longer permissible to fight on Yule-day, 
and it became a specially memorable fact, when, in the case of necessary 
work, three days only were kept free from labour, though there were cases in 
which a fight would arise in a Yule company, and some men were killed.' 
The Yule-tide grew still further, so that in the twelfth century a celebration 
of fourteen days was reached.* From the banning of the eleventh century 
the occasions on which Yule is mentioned in the Saga literature become 
ever more frequent* So the Bandamannasaga^ which has its origin no 

porpoise. The king stuck his knife into it, but took not thereof. Then said the king : 
'Fetch me a woman into the hall.' They came thither and had a woman with them, and 
she was coifed wide and side. The king laid his hand to her head, and looked on her, 
and said : * An ill-favoured woman is this, yet not so that one may not endure her.' Then 
he looked at her hand and said : ' An ungoodly hand and ill-waxen, yet one must endure it' 
Then he bade her reach forth her foot ; he looked thereon, and said : ' A foot monstrous and 
mickle much ; but one may give no heed thereto; such must be put up with.' Then he 
bade them lift up the kirtle, and now he saw the leg, and said : < Fie on thy leg ! it is both 
blue and thick, and a mere whore must thou be.' And he bade them take her out, 'for I 
will not have her.' " 

^ William Morris and Eirikr Magndsson, The Story of the Ere- Dwellers ^ London, 1892, p. 
146 : '* And by then it was hard on the Yule-fast, though at that time there was no fasting 
in Iceland." 

^Ihid., p. 79. 

^ ** King Harald came to Biorgvin on Yule-eve, and laid his host into Feoru-bights, and 
would not fight for its holiness' sake" {Hetmskringla^ III., p. 321, Story of Magnus the 
Blind and Harald Gilli); and III., p. 322: "Only three days in the Yule-tide were 
holden holy from smith's work. But on the out -going day of Yule, King Harald let blow 
the host to give way. In Yule-tide nine hundreds of men had gathered to King Harald." 
'* King Hakon was in Cheaping through the Yule ; and one evening, early in the Yule-tide, 
his men got to blows in the Court Hall, and eight men came by their death, and many were 
ftrounded. But after the eighth day of Yule there £ued into Elda these fellows of Hakon " 
{Ibid.^ p. 415, Story of Hakon Shoulder-Broad^ chap. ».). 

* ** He went out of King's Rock on the latter part of Yule-tide with much folk, and they 
came to Force on the thirteenth day of Yule. He stayed there for the night, and went to 
matins there on the last day of Yule, and the gospel was read to him thereafter ; this was on 
a bath-day" {Ibid.^ p. 420, Story of Hakon Shoulder- Broody chap. xiv.). 

» Heimskringlat Vol. II., p. 48, Story of Olaf the Holy^ chap, zxxix. " may be that he 
will sit down in quiet at Steinker over Yule," Ibid,^ p. 50, Story of Olaf the Holy, chap. xL ; 

02 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



212 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

earlier than the second half of the thirteenth century, but the story of which 
is laid about 1050, mentions the Yule-tide in a general kind of way as a 
festive time.* 



** and he let flit into the houses both the drink and the victuals, being minded to sit there 
Yule-tide over," Iduf,, p. 51; "The king had a great Yule-bidding, and bade to him 
many wealthy bonders from the countr3^des,'* /did., p. 79, Story of Olqf the Holy, chap, lix.; 
"This winter Eyvind was a Yule-guest of King Olaf, and took good gifts of him. There was 
also with the king at the time Bryniolf Camel, and he had for a Yule-gift from the king a 
gold- wrought sword and therewithal the manor called Vettland, the greatest* of chiefeteads,*' 
Ibid,, p. 79, Story of Olaf the Holy, chap. Ix.; "a little before Yule," Idid,, p. 149, Story oj 
Olaf the Holy, ch2i\^, xair, "After Yule," 7^., p. l $1, Story of Olaf the Holy, chAp, xdil; 
"after Yule," /did,, p. 285, Story of Olaf the Holy, chap, cxlviii.; "after Yule," /bid,, p. 
296, chap. clL; "after Yule," /bid,, p. 337, chap, clxxii.; "Good store for Yule," /bid,, p. 
361, chap, clxxxvii.; "Forthwith on the back of Yule," /bid,, p. 386, chap. cdiL; "after 
Yule," Heimskringla, Vol. III., p. i. Story of Magnus the Good, chap.i.; "after Yulc,"/W<f., 
p. 266 ; " When it drew towards Yule," /bid,, p. 39, Story of Magntis the Good, chap, zzxi.; 
"A little ere the Yule-tide," /bid,, p. 50, chap, xxxvi.; "Those cheapingsteads where jre, 
lord, are wont to sit and take Yule-feasts," /bid,, p. 183, Story of Harold the Hard-redy, 
chap, cii.; " the earl should let set market for meat-cheaping for Sigurd all the winter, but 
this went on no longer than to Yule, and then meat grew hard to get, for the land is barren 
and an ill meat-land," /bid,, p. 250, Story of S^urd Jerusalem farer, chap, iv.; "close 
after Yule," /bid,, p. 349, Story of /ngi, son of Harold, chap, ii.; "this folk went on 
as if nothing was so needful as this Yule-drinking, and that might in no wise be given up," 
/bid,, p. 422, Story of Hokon Shoulder-Broad, chap. xv. ; "Erling arrayed there for a 
Yule-feast, but the Hising-dwellers had a guild-ale, and held their fellowship through Yule- 
tide. The night after the fifth day of Yule, Erling feured out," etc, /bid,, p. 460, Story of 
King Magnus, son of Erling, chap, xix.; "But when Earl Erling had news of this flock, he 
fiEured with his host into the Wick, and kept to his ships through the summer, and was in 
harvest-tide in Oslo, and feasted there through Yule," /bid,, p. 474, Story of King Magnus, 
son of Erling, chap. xxxL; "and the King feasted there through the Yule-tide," /bid,, p. 484, 
Story of King Magnus, son of Erling, chap. xlii. 

^ The Saga Library, edited by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson, Vol. I., London, 
1891, p. 1 14 : " Said Hermund : ' This is like the rest of thy lying, like as thou saidest in 
the winter-tide, Egil, when thou earnest to me at my bidding from thy wreck of a house at 
Burg in Yule-tide : and right glad wert thou thereat, as was like to be ; and when Yule 
was spent, thou grewest sad, as was like to be, thinking it hard to have to go home to that 
misery : but I, when I saw that, bade thee abide still, thou and another with thee ; and 
thou tookest that, and wert foin thereof: but in spring-tide after Easter, when thou wert 
come home to Burg, thou saidst that thirty ice-horses had died, and had all been eaten 
by us.'" 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



SCANDINAVIAN YULE 213 

There is no statement in the early parts of the Heimskringla about a Thing 
being held at Yule, a fact which alone proves that it was no old offering- 
tide; for both in Germany and Scandinavia the two things went together, 
being merely two different sides of the three annual assemblies of the men 
of the individual tribes. In the thirteenth century, however, Yule-tide 
seems to have been used for public announcements, for which it no doubt 
was fitted by the fact that men stayed either at home then or met in 
larger companies at the principal places of the country.^ 

The customs of Norway were transferred to Iceland and to Greenland ; 
and in Greenland Yule was held, as in Europe, for a number of days, so 
that the Vblva or prophetess could within the holy tide visit several farms, 
some of them more than a day's journey apart^ Christianity had at last 
Conquered the Scandinavian tribes, as, half a millennium before, it had 
won over the Western Germanics. United to the world of Roman civilisation, 
it forced upon all its subjects a uniform system, not only of belief, but 
also of rite and custom. At the dawn of history an ancient, inherited unity 
of intellectual life had embraced all Germanic tribes, but amidst the various 
economic and mental environments into which the several tribes entered in 
the early Middle Ages that inheritance of the East was irrevocably lost It 
was the destiny of Christianity to create a new mental unity for the Germanic 
world. A considerable part of the history of that nation is contained in the 
two words : Ytde and Christfnas. 



'When, in 1262, King Hacon of Norway heard that the Scots committed all kinds 
of hostilities in the Hebrides, he resolved in council to issue in winter about J61 an edict 
through all Norway, and order out both what troops and provisions he thought his dominions 
could possibly supply for an expedition (Bibliotheca Curiosa : The Norwegian Account of 
King Haco's Expedition against Scotland, A.D. 1263. Literally translated from the 
or^nal Icelandic of the Flateyan and Frisian mss. By the Rev. James Johnstone, AM., 
and edited with additional notes by Edmund Goldsmid, Edinburgh, 1885, p. 19). 

^Eirikssaga raudka^ ed. by G. Storm, p. 14 ss., Eugen Mc^k, Ueber Los^ Zauberund 
Weissfigung bet den Germanen in KUinere Beitrage stur Geschickte^ von Dozenien derLeipziger 
Hochschuk^ Leipzig, 1894, p. 86 ss. : '*In a £urm in Greenland, built and inhabited by 
Icelanders, there lived a woman named Thorbjorg. She was a prophetess, and was caUed 
Little Volva. She was wont in winter-tide to fare from one Yule banquet to another, and 
everywhere to ask for those men who wished to learn their future, and the course of the 
new jrear," etc. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



CHAPTER XVI. 



RESULTS. 



I. Whilst early record and the history of institutions point to a tri- 
partition of The Germanic Year, etymology is in favour of a dual division. 
This seeming contradiction is dissipated by the fact that, although, of old, 
the Aryans divided their year into two parts — winter and summer — only, 
they early took over a year of oriental origin, which consisted of six tides 
of three-score days each. Two such tides could be combined to form thirds 
of years, as three to form halves of years. Whilst there are no original 
Germanic month-names, there is ample evidence for these three-score-day 
tides. Yule was one of them. It originally extended from mid-November 
to mid-January ; among the Goths of the sixth century it covered November 
and December; and among the Anglo-Saxons of the seventh century, 
December and January. 

II. The Beginning of the Anglo-German Year doubtless was not 
wholly dependent on tradition, but was to some extent influenced by 
climatic conditions. Whilst all Germanic tribes began their year with the 
beginning of winter, the Western Germanics in Germany and Britain began 
their winter naturally somewhat later than the Northern Germanics did in 
Scandinavia and Iceland. The latter reckoned their annual circle as com- 
mencing towards the middle of October; the former began theirs towards 
the middle of November. Not only does the actual winter set in about 
that time both in Germany and Britain, but the coupling of November 
and December in Gothic to form one three-score-day tide, the usage attested 
by urbarial evidence, and the conditions of pasture life, all point likewise 
to a beginning of the Anglo-German year towards the isth day of November. 



Google 



Digitized by VjOOQ 



RESULTS 215 

III. There being evidence of a German festival in the first half of 
November as early as a.d. 14, we have good reason to regard The Feast 
OF Martinmas on November 1 1 as the successor of an ancient Germanic 
festive New Year, to which the Synod of Auxerre in 578, forbidding intem- 
perance on that day, bears further testimony. The feasting about Martinmas 
even in the later Middle Ages possessed a higher popularity than belonged 
to any other similar annual feast. 

IV. Martinmas being the successor of the ancient Germanic New Year, 
it is not strange that Martinmas and the Tri-Partition of the Year 
should be closely connected. Martinmas is the oldest legal term in the 
A.S. Laws, and appears as such very early on German soil also. Mid-Lent 
and Mid-July were the other two legal terms. The three constituted a 
division of the year into three equal parts, each of which consisted of a 
long hundred of days. 

V. Martinmas and the Dual Division of the Year were no less 
closely connected. As late as the sixteenth century, Martinmas and 
Mid-May were German terms, and they are still the prevalent terms in 
Scotland. The Prankish May fields and the corresponding celebrations 
instituted by the Church as appropriate to the beginning of November 
and the Rogation days together point in the same direction. It was 
not before a.d. 755 that the latter two terms were superseded by March 
I and October i. 

VI. Martinmas and Michaelmas were the two popular autumn festivities 
for which Germanic origin has been claimed. But in the matter of age, 
Michaelmas is far behind Martinmas. Whilst excessive Martinmas festivities 
were forbidden so early as a.d. 578, the ecclesiastical festival of St. Michael on 
September 29 was not instituted before a.d. 813; and prior to the seventeenth 
century the mentions of Martinmas are at least twice as frequent as those 
of Michaelmas — a fact which clearly shows the respective importance of 
the two terms. Michaelmas term owes its origin to the Roman quartering 
of the year. Even when agriculture grew in importance, and, consequently, 
the harvest festivals received an ever-increasing significance, Martinmas, as 
the centre of the slaughtering time of domestic animals, for ages outshone 
Michaelmas in popular splendour, till the stock of grain and potatoes under 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



2i6 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

cultivation became in general so large that it ceased to matter very much 
when the cattle, sheep, and swine were killed. 

VII. Whilst Martinmas, Mid-March, and Mid-July, on the one hand, 
and Martinmas and Mid-May, on the other, played the most important part 
as terms in the Germanic year, the Germanic tribes knew so little of 
Solstices and Equinoxes that they had not even names for them. These 
conceptions they got from the Romans, and the different words which the 
various tribes formed to express these ideas are mere translations of the 
Roman denominations. There never was a Germanic solstice celebration, 
and December 25, the pseudo-winter-solstice of the Julian calendar, was 
no Germanic festive day until after the contact of the Germanic tribes 
with the Romans. 

VIII. The first severe blow which the Germanic year received was 
from the Roman year. In course of time The Calends of January 
became the beginning of the year on Germanic soil as well as in the 
rest of the world. The Calends gifts, the Calends fires, the Calends 
mummery in the hides of animals, the Calends branches and trees are 
striking instances of the transference of customs which then took place and 
which came to form the centre of the later Germanic celebrations about 
the shortest day of the year. 

IX. On the basis of a number of instances of sacrifices on tables 
occurring about the end of December and the begiiming of January, it has 
been supposed that a Germanic dead festival was celebrated about that 
time. But these ofiferings were mere transformations of the Tabula 
FoRTUNAE, a most important feature of the Calends-of-January celebration 
over the whole r^ons from Egypt to Rome in the early centuries of our 
era. The same holds for the New Year's cakes connected with that 
Egyptio-Roman custom. 

'' X. The Nativity of Christ as an anniversary owed its origin to Rome 
and to the year 354, its evolution being clearly traceable. The Dodeka- 
hemeron^ the time between Nativity and Epiphany, was one of its oldest 
products. In the sixth century a new era was b^un with December 25 
of the 7S3rd year of Rome, and the natural outgrowth of this was the moving 
of the New Year fi^om the Calends of January to Christ's alleged birthday .; 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



RESULTS 217 

XL One of the most important sources of our knowledge of the Germanic 
division of the year is the treatise of Beda, De Mensibus Anglorum, 
forming chapter xv. of his book De Temporum Ratione. It contains some 
facts of great antiquity, among them the names of two Germanic three- 
score-day tides, Geola and Lida, Some of Beda's other A.S. month-names 
were of comparatively late growth. Etymology was not his strong point, 
and no great weight can be attached to his interpretations of A.S. words. 
What he describes is not the Germanic year, but the Romano-Christian 
year, with which he was familiar. He was not aware of the numerous 
contradictions which his short statement contains. Notwithstanding his 
assertion that December 25 was originally called Yule, and that December 
and January from it received their names as the earlier and later Yulemonth, 
there is not a single case, prior to the eleventh century, in which December 
25 was called Yule. His remark that the ceremonies practised in his time 
among the Christianised Angles on December 25 had given rise to its 
being called "the mothers* night," can only be explained as referring to 
human mothers who took part in an obscene but well-known cult in honour 
of the Virgin. It cannot denote any deities styled the mothers, for when he 
means to indicate that a celebration took its title from a deity, to which he 
supposed it to be devoted, he says so expressly. 

^ XII. Nativity, Christes MiESS, and Christmas are terms which show 
the growth of a regular ecclesiastical celebration of December 25 in the 
centuries that followed Beda. Christ's birthday anniversary became from 
A.D. 800 the great day for state ceremonies. It was also observed as a 
strict Church holiday. Ordeals and oaths were forbidden from the end of 
the tenth century, and peace was ordained Up to the end of the eleventh 
century the Church tried to make Christ's Nativity as joyous a time as 
possible. About the beginning of the twelfth century this goal seems to 
have been reached, for then the Church began a severe struggle against 
excessive gaiety at Christmas. Various peculiarly Christian conceptions and 
usages, evolved out of the hymn Rorate Coeli^ generated the belief that 
the dew of the night between December 24 and 25 was specially beneficent 
Out of the legend that in the actual night of Christ's birth all nature had 
rejoiced, all trees had budded, and all animals had talked sprang the fancy 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



2l8 YULE AND CHRISTMAS 

that on the holy anniversary apple trees and hawthorns bloomed This 
combining with the Calends-of- January traditional usage of setting up trees 
and branches led at last to the Christmas tree. 

XIII. In ancient historical times The Scandinavian Year began 
between October 9 and 14, and was halved by a day between April 9 
and 14. When the Roman quartering ot the year gained the mastery, the 
dividing days lay between January 9 and 14 and June 9 and 14. These 
days alone, and under no circumstance December 25 and June 24, could 
properly have been called midwinter and midsummer. 

XIV. The tri-partition of the early Scandinavian year, no longer recog- 
nisable in the oldest runic almanacs, was still visible in the Scandinavian 
Offering Tides. The author of the Heimskringla remembered quite well 
that, originally, there were three of them, although he was not quite sure 
which they were. As, however, in the early parts of the Heimskringla^ all 
great festivities recorded up to a.d. 840 were held in autumn at winter's 
beginning, there can be no doubt that this, held about October 9 to 14, was 
one of the three. The second, held between February 9 and 14, was called 
Gbiblbt^ and the third, between June 9 and 14, coincided in later Iceland 
with the great annual assembly, the Allthing. After a.d. 840 a Jbl festival 
began to appear, and was in the Heimskringla up to a.d. iooo mentioned 
almost as often as the autumn festival. Subsequently it rapidly grew in 
importance, whilst the autumn festival was merged in a simple St Michael- 
mas, and Gbiblbt disappeared altogether. 

XV. The Scandinavian Yule festival was a product of the ninth- 
century. It arose out of the festivals at vetmbttum and in the month of 
Gbi (October 9 to 14 and February 9 to 14). For at least a century it was 
celebrated about the middle of January (a dividing-point in the Roman 
quartering of the Scandinavian year), and it was King Hakon the Good of 
Norway (a.d. 940-963) who first ordered its celebration on the same day 
as the Christian festival of the Nativity. By this act the Scandinavians joined, 
in an important point, the ritual world of Christian Western Europe, and 
recovered part of that intellectual unity with the other Germanic tribes which 
had been lost during their migration time in the early Middle Ages. 



Glasgow: printed at thb univbksity press by Robert maclbhose and ca 




Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC